Get Over Yourself: How to handle being asked for a discount
A lot of the guidance put out there to help entrepreneurs and small business owners with their negotiation skills centers around two themes:
Teaching you how to charge more
Teaching you how to pay less
A quick look back through my archives here on the blog will reveal the same pattern…so I’m giving myself a quick slap on the wrist today – right along with all of my fellow negotiation enthusiasts.
We’ve missed a fundamental. And for that I’m sorry.
You need to know how to handle being asked for a discount.
We need to teach you how to charge less – or, rather – how to be flexible in how you do business.
There’s a whole lot of self-righteous indignation that happens when a client (current, or potential) asks for a lower price.
“How dare they?! Don’t they know I pour so much expertise into what I do?”
“Who do they think they are, asking me to match a competitor's price?! Don’t they know I’m head-and-shoulders better than they are?”
Come on. Fess up. You’ve said those very same things. And if you haven’t, the internet forum where you went to share your tale of negotiation horror gave you a solid pep talk that involved those phrases, or something close to.
But here’s the thing.
They have the right to ask you for that discount.
Just as you have the right to ask the vendors you work with for a discount.
And just as everyone has the right to say no.
But you don’t have to say no.
Negotiating with a client or customer doesn’t make you weak, or a dumb dumb.
It’s part of business and life – and as long as everyone involved is being respectful of the person, and value of what’s on offer…it’ll go just fine.
Here are some options (instead of that indignation) that you can try.
1) Say No
It’s absolutely your prerogative to say no when someone asks you to lower your price, or change up a proposal you’ve made. And the best part is that you don’t need to fall all over yourself with apologies and explanations for why. A simple “I’m not able to adjust the price, based on what’s involved in the work” will do.
2) Adjust the Price.
Whoa. I know. This means making less for the product or service you’ll be selling. But that’s not inherently a bad thing. When you price your product or service it helps to build a little buffer into the figure, so that if you move it downwards for a customer, you’re not feeling any pain – you’re still satisfied with what you’ll earn. In corporate negotiations we’d call this sandbagging your price, but I prefer to think of it as creating wiggle room for you to win more business and delight more clients. Having this wiggle room (even just 5-10% of the quoted price) makes for a satisfied customer, and if you’re still a-ok with that final price – it’s a win.
3) Change Your Offering
Whether you’re offering pre-set packages on your website, or have crafted a custom project proposal, offering to alter what’s included to suit a client’s budget can be a great way to win business without sacrificing earnings. Perhaps your all-in logo, letterhead, business card, website, social media asset, plus, plus, plus package is a tad too expensive for the client when all is said and done…but a streamlined logo + card + site combo would fit nicely. Counter offer them that. True – they aren’t getting your top of the line service…but they’re also not paying your top of the line price. That’s fair for everyone.
4) Flex the How
When a client asks for you to lower the price – there may be something else (something other than the actual dollar value) behind it. Maybe they’re going to be short until next pay day – so offering to split the fee into two payments would make it possible for them to pay full price? Or maybe you could use some cash ASAP, so would be willing to offer a discount if they paid you right now, instead of at the end of the project? The key here is to look beyond the ‘they’re asking me for a discount’ fog/rage/upset and find another way to keep everyone’s needs met.
Notably absent from each of these options is that self-righteousness, or the ‘how dare they?!’ vibe. We’re replacing that with flexibility and creativity…and it doesn’t feel bad at all. In fact, learning how to hone these skills in your negotiations is gonna feel fabulous, as you’re able to bring in more business – and more business that makes you happy.