You’ve been working with a client for 12 months, inflation is through the roof, or maybe your services have become much better and you are raising your rates.
This might not be difficult for new clients, but what about your legacy clients
Determining your new rate
- No one-size fits all
- Test by pitching new rates to new clients to get a feel for demand. This test of willingness to pay is very common in SaaS and works well in the services world too. We used this strategy multuiple times, and was always surprised at how high we could go.
- Currently charge $150, but then close a new client at $175? There is some hard data on the fact that you should increase your rates
- Do an annual, percentage-based, increase. This is super easy to do, lays out future expectations, and is pretty easy to communicate. I like doing this in combination for larger jumps for newer clients
- Compare to other types of services and agencies. If you have agency friends you can chat about, it’s always helpful to hear other folk’s numbers. I don’t like this method for determining your rate, but i could be helpful to just make sure you are in the same ballpark
First things first, determining your rate is a mix of art and science. An effective strategy we did was pitching higher rates when talking to prospective clients. This allows for very quick, unfiltered, feedback. They don’t blink an eye? That’s a good data point. Did they shut down the conversation? Maybe you strayed too high.
Another way to increase rates is to just do an annual increase by a few percentage points (maybe 3-5%). This method is easier to communicate with both prospective and current clients. It lays out future expectations and keeps everyone on the same page.
You can even combine these larger jumps with standard annual increases. It is all relative to whatever starting point you have with a new client.
New clients versus existing clients
- New clients is easy and we touched on it above. If for some reason your new clients find out that you charge your old clients less, you can say there is a difference in services offered, or that rates increases are a systemic part of your business.
- Existing clients is a little more difficult, but there are a few hacks
- You can tell your existing clients that you have been charging your new clients more and that you are worried about subconsciously (probably consciously too) favoring them. This is powerful because it makes your current clients feel like they’ve almost been getting a discount.
- When do to it? Well, don’t do it mid-project. You need to wait until a project is complete, or a contract has ended. Trying to do so in the middle is a tough task.
New clients should be pretty easy to onboard at your higher rate since they have no previous rate to compare to. Existing clients may be a little trickier.
Here’s what worked best for us:
Tell existing clients that you have been charging your new clients a higher rate. Let them know that you are worried about subconsciously (probably consciously too) favoring them. This works because it incentivizes them to move up to your new rate to ensure they stay top of mind.
When should you communicate this to existing clients?
You need to wait until a project is complete, or a contract has ended. Trying to do so in the middle of a project is much more difficult.