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Let’s get one thing straight, you are not a pixel monkey. The sooner you break the habit of pushing pixels around like a well trained chimpanzee and begin offering strategic insights that can move the needle of your client’s business, the better. This is the key to unlocking bigger budgets and bigger opportunities. Solve bigger problems.

Are you ready to improve your ability to upsell your clients? Here is the situation, your options, and how to do it.

The Situation:

You and the client have agreed on the scope and price. However, as you dig into the project you start to realize that there is more work needed to help the client get the results they hope for. You have recommendations that can move the needle. How do you do it without making the client feel like you are panning for gold in their wallet?

Option 01:

You can keep your mouth shut, do the job at the price you agreed to and move on. This is Pixel-Monkey-Land and it is where far too many creatives live throughout the majority of their careers. It is not the recommended approach in most situations. (There is, however, a time and a place with some difficult clients where it is best to just to bury your head, do the work and move on.)

Option 02:

You can absorb the extra work inside of the current project budget and “over deliver” in the eyes of your client. If you choose to go this route, be sure to let the client know that you are adding things to the project to get them better results. (I have done this many times including fixing bad logos, reworking headline writing, making color palettes consistent etc.) You might say something like this, “Hey client, as we dug into the website project we realized that your logo had some bad spacing and a couple other adjustments necessary to polish it up. So, we took it upon ourselves to fix those things for you even though they weren’t part of our original project scope. We just want you to have the best brand possible. We will send you the new logo files.”

With this approach you should consider “brownie points” as your “payment” for the extra work. You do get something from it; client love, client trust, and client admiration in lieu of money.

Option 03:

Tell your client something like this;

“I’m really excited about this project and want to do amazing work for you. As we’ve begun working, there are a few things that we feel could be improved to help generate better results. We would recommend _____________, ______________, ______________, and _______________. If you are interested in having us make improvements to those things, I would love to discuss each item in more detail and work to agree on pricing for those extra things. We can, of course, just continue with the project as it is currently scoped and priced. I’m just bringing these things up because we want to deliver the best results we can for you business. Please let me know your thoughts.”

A message like this accomplishes the following:

  1. Shows your goal is in improved results. (Your client will like to hear this).
  2. Articulates that the recommendations are out of scope. (You will need more budget.)
  3. Leaves the decision up to the client if they would like to explore the recommendations further. (It is a soft ask and won’t ruffle feathers.)
  4. Highlights that you are happy to just keep working on the project as currently agreed. (If the client isn’t interested, no harm done.)

Generating great results should be your number one goal with your client engagements. Sometimes, we don’t see things until we dig into the project and if we are truly results focused with a “partnership mindset” we will want to bring our best recommendations to our clients. Don’t be afraid of Option 03, it is the key to leveling up your pricing and value.

There is a time and place for all three of these options and all can be successful in their own way. I’ve done them all many times. Use your judgement. Choose the right option for the situation you face and go all in.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.