What to Do When a Client Says They Can’t Afford You
“Give them quality. That’s the best kind of advertising.” -Milton Hershey
When a potential client says, “I can’t afford your services,” you have lost. You have missed your shot. Here’s why – this means you did not know enough about the business and you tried to close the deal too soon.
Identify the needs
You need to understand both the needs and the goals of the company as well as the leadership. You need to know precisely what their needs are. It may take one, two, or five meetings to identify what those needs are clearly. The better you can understand their needs, the better chance you have for formally doing business with that client.
If you potentially give away a little bit of your secret sauce or your subject matter expertise during the pre-engagement process, that is perfectly all right. The more you can understand your client’s needs, the better you can make sure it is a perfect fit when you offer the services.
When Board Developer meets with someone for the first time, and they are interested in one or more of our services, the question of cost does come up in the discussions. We proactively communicate that our services cost a range between x and y based upon their needs.
At this point, if the potential client says they do not think they can afford even the lower range of services, we let them know that is okay and that we completely understand.
Do NOT lower your prices
One of the most important things is to never, ever discount your services. If you discount your services, you are then communicating that your services are worth less. However, you can be creative in how you charge and in looking for other ways your potential client can afford your services. If it is clear the client can afford x for a particular period and then move to y later on, build that into the statement of work or contract as a measured performance requirement within the scope of services and prices.
As I talk with an individual or an organization about Board Developer’s services, sometimes I offer some level of service for free. For example, Organizational Development is one vertical out of the spectrum of services we provide. Within our Organizational Development services, we use DISC as a tool to build effective teams. Occasionally, we will offer a DISC assessment for free to a business leader, followed by a debrief session. Providing some service level at no cost allows the potential client to experience the caliber our company offers.
The magic to all of this is to listen. Listen to what the client’s needs are. Understand why they need you and want your services. Then work hard to solve their why so the organization cannot afford not to hire you…