There are all sorts of excellent reasons to charge your clients a significant sum based on the value they receive from you.
But this one has an outsized impact on your work together: money is often a proxy for commitment.
I discovered this the hard way the first (and last) time I facilitated a non-profit Board strategy retreat pro bono. Trying to get the members to participate in the process while also respecting my time was a non-starter.
That’s because we value what we work and pay for—not what is dropped in our lap (yet another reason we tend to undervalue our native talents).
In consulting, that means when you’re midwifing a big transformation, your client needs to have some significant skin in the game.
Agreeing to your value-aligned fees is a proxy for their commitment to the process. It is one of the early steps in your new business dance that binds you together.
If they throw up non-resolvable budget concerns after you’ve clearly demonstrated your value (well beyond your fees) it’s a sign that they lack the commitment to move forward with you.
They are not your ideal clients.
Don’t be tempted to negotiate around the issue because what they’re really telling you is they don’t buy into your worldview. That your transformation either won’t happen for them or isn’t worth what they must pay to get it.
They simply aren’t ready for your brand of transformation. Maybe someday, but not today.
Today your best option is to genuinely thank them for their consideration and move on.