Imagine this: You’re talking to a client about a potential project and everything is going great. The client loves your ideas, they are impressed by your knowledge and your writing samples. It’s time to close this deal. You send them a proposal and the first thing they say is ‘your price is too high’.

How do you handle this response? Do you negotiate or stick to your original price? And if you do negotiate, what’s your limit? How will this affect future work with this client and your image?

If you start to feel your emotions kicking in, take a deep breath and try not to take it personally. There is no need to get offended when someone tries to get you to bring your price down. Don’t waste any time thinking that the client is questioning your personal worth or your talent.

Most of the time, when a client tries to get a discount, it has more to do with their own inner struggles, for example:

  1. They’re trying to justify the expense of your service to themselves. If they get a discount it will be easier for them to do that.
  2. They have no idea how much writing services cost. It may be their first time looking for a writer and sincerely don’t know how much they should be paying.
  3. They’re comparing you to someone cheaper. They’re trying to get you, a higher-quality writer, to work for the same cheap price
  4. They aren’t really interested in closing a deal right now. They’re just using the too expensive excuse to buy some time.

These inner struggles cause friction between you and your client.

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So if you’re approached with the question ‘Can you lower your rate?’ You have a decision to make.

Guess what? You can say no.

It’s totally legitimate.

That being said, it’s okay to negotiate too, but not how you may think.

Instead of arbitrarily slashing your rate to close the deal, let your clients win on something else, other than price. When you let them win on something else, they feel like they’re still getting a deal, and this will remove that friction I mentioned above. Here are 3 ways to make your clients feel like they are winning by closing a deal with you:

Let them win on smaller payments

If the price you proposed was too high for your client to swallow, offer to break the project down into smaller mini projects, which you can complete over a longer period of time. This will allow the client to spread the payment over a weekly, monthly or quarterly period so that they feel that they can afford you.

Let’s say a client wants you to write a 6-page website for them. You can break the project into 3 phases. In each phase you’ll deliver 2 pages and bill them for just a third of the amount – an easier sum for your client to digest. In the end, you will still get paid the full fee that you originally proposed, so it’s a win-win for both of you. You can even ask for the first payment in advance before you start the project.

Let them win on setting the budget

Come straight out and ask your client what their budget is. I know it sounds kind of intrusive, but I actually do this a lot, especially when I get responses like ‘We’re a startup and we need a good price’ or ‘We’re a small company with a small budget for marketing’.

Asking this question forces the client to be honest with you about how much they’re willing to pay. This will save you a lot of time that you could be wasting negotiating with a client who isn’t a good match for you. With this information, you can match the size of the project to the budget they have in mind.

Let’s use our website project again as an example. If the budget that they suggest is too low for a 6-page website, you can offer to reduce the scope of the work to 4 pages. Then, you can offer to write the additional 2 pages as a separate project, later down the line. The client gets to stay within their budget, and you’re ensuring that you’re not going to work more for less. Again, a win-win solution for both of you.

Let them win on a (strategic) discount

Let’s say you really want to work on a project and you’re willing to lower your rate to close the deal. You can offer a discount but add a condition that it is available for a very short time.

Back to our website project example: you can offer to reduce the price by 15% – 20% if payment is made within the next 24 hours. The client gets the discount they were hungry for and you get paid the full amount right away instead of waiting a month for payment or more. Better yet, you eliminate the risk of having to chase down payment

You never want to make an offer that puts you in a position where you are losing out on the compensation that you deserve. Like all profitable businesses, offer discounts strategically to remove buyer hesitation and increase your earnings, not reduce them.

Now it’s your turn

How can you remove the friction between you and your clients by letting them ‘win’ on something else or than price? Think of a negotiation scenario that happens often in your business and plan how you will approach it next time by using one of the strategies above to get a better outcome. Here’s to more win-win deals in our future!

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