Negotiation Q&A: Is raising my rates greedy?


Recently, I was asked this great question by a reader –

“I want to improve my biz, but am afraid that asking for things; especially money, will make me look greedy. How can I avoid that?”

I love this question, because it gets right down to the foundation of being a confident negotiator – our mindset.

It’s entirely natural to have feelings of doubt creep up. Or to worry about how others will perceive us if we step up and ask for more than we’re being offered. These feelings are especially intense when we’re finding our feet, and cultivating our voice in business but rest assured, with time and practice it subsides.

Today you’ll learn 2 of my key tricks to diffusing those doubts and worries ASAP – so that you can get down to the business of securing the rates you deserve.

Trick #1 Focus on your ‘why’

Why are you asking for this rate increase? What’s the driving force behind it?

  • Maybe you’ve completed a certification and your higher rate reflects this new level of expertise…
  • Or maybe your cost of doing business, or cost of materials has gone up and you need to pass that on to your customers…
  • Perhaps you’re in high demand – but can’t possibly squeeze another client into your schedule…

If you can identify a reason along the lines of one of the above for why you’re asking for a higher rate, you can relax – no one is going to be calling you a greedy guts (so you don’t have to feel that way about yourself).

If; however, your reason for increasing rates is somewhere in the neighbourhood of ‘because I can’, you might be veering into opportunism – and yes, perhaps greed.

Think of it this way:

When a storeowner increases the price of a bottle of water because their costs have gone up – that’s fine.

When a storeowner increases the price of a bottle of water because there’s a broken main in the neighbourhood and no one has access to running water – that’s shady.

Be honest with yourself in figuring out your why. If you can back it up – you won’t be looking greedy.

Trick #2 Focus on the exchange

When we’re focused solely on what’s in it for us, it’s more likely that we’ll come across as greedy or self-serving when we’re negotiating. Me me me me me me me. Ugh.

Shift your mindset to collaboration – “What’s in it for us?” – and that changes.

Asking “What’s in it for us?” can change everything…

In the example of asking a client for a rate increase, your benefit may be financial – but there’s something in it for your client as well. Perhaps it’s a higher quality end-result thanks to your new skills.

If you’re earning a rate that compensates you for your contributions, covers your overhead expenses, and turns a profit…just think of how present you can be when working with that client. No worrying about the bills, no feeling resentful for being under-paid, and confident that you’re able to re-invest in improving your business.

That, my friends – is a win for everyone involved, and miles away from being greedy.

Still feeling unsure?

Turn the tables. Go back through your list of ‘whys’ and the value you’re delivering to the other person and put yourself in their shoes.

If someone asked you for a rate increase, and had these reasons and motivations…would you think they were being greedy? Or, would you recognize and respect them as a business person who’s setting themselves up to do their best possible work for you?

Here’s your practice challenge:

The next time you’re quoting for work (bonus points if it’s with an existing client!) challenge yourself to bump up your rate. It doesn’t have to be huge…even a few percentage points is a good place to start. Write out your whys, and the value your client is getting…feeling good? Would another % point feel better?  Add it – then quote.

What’s your most motivating why in asking for what you need in business? Have you been on the receiving end of a rate increase? How did it feel? What did you learn?

This post originally appeared here.