What to do when prospective clients say your fees are too high


You don’t want to lose them and you don’t want to cut your fee. What do you say or do with prospects who say you’re too expensive? 

First, you realize that this might be true for them. In which case, you let them go. But before you do that, offer a lower-priced service if you have one, or a smaller portion of your full service. If not, offer to introduce them to a lawyer or firm with lower fees.

Help them and they’ll remember you if their financial situation or legal needs change. And by referring them to another lawyer, you might earn that lawyer’s referrals when they have a conflict or a client who needs more help than they can provide. 

For everyone else, consider that you might not have a fee problem, you have a marketing problem. 

You might be targeting prospective clients who are not a good fit for you in terms of their needs and your capabilities. If you are a sole practitioner, for example, and they want to work with a bigger firm, you either need to show them why you are more nimble and can provide them with more personal attention as a sole practitioner than a bigger firm, or otherwise convince them you can deliver what they’re looking for. 

Your timing might be the culprit. If you’re speaking to a prospect at a low point in their cash flow cycle, or in the middle of an inflationary cycle, introduce them to a bank or other source of funding, or adopt more flexible payment terms yourself. 

Your timing might also be a problem if (they think) you’re not responding to their inquiry quickly enough. 

Maybe they think you’re too aggressive in trying to get them to sign up. Or not aggressive enough if that’s something they are used to or expect. 

They might not like your style. Some clients need a bit of handholding, and you might not be solicitous enough for their taste. Others might equate being overly nice with being weak.

It could be ineffective marketing materials. Your website or presentation might talk too much about features and not enough about benefits. You might not have enough testimonials or reviews to see the deal. Maybe you haven’t shown them you provide enough value, especially if they’re comparing you to your competition who offers more or does a better job of articulating that value. 

Maybe the whole package they see is too lawyer-like (somber, boring, tight-lipped) for them, or not lawyer-like enough. 

If you want to sign up more clients and have fewer prospects tell you your fees are too high, you need to find out what people want and what they expect. It comes down to research, testing, and conversation.

Try different approaches and see what works best. Survey or talk to prospects, new clients, and especially, the ones who got away. 

You can learn a lot just by talking to people.