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  • 18 May, 2010

    When To Say No To Clients

    A common dilemma amongst bloggers and solo business operators is saying "no" to clients.  For some, "no" is a dirty word, guaranteed to alienate potential customers and future prospects.

    So when is it appropriate to say "no" to a potential client?

    My first example comes from a recent experience with one of my blogs.  I was approached with an enquiry about advertising.  I sent my rates as usual, the next step generally being the PayPal transfer and setup of the ad on site.

    This time, the reaction from the potential client was unusual.  Call it a sixth sense, but you will probably know when someone isn't being 100% kosher with you.  He immediately asked for a discount.  Not a small discount, but a whopping 75% off my standard yearly rate.  I refused his offer and after stating my maximum discount, I did not correspond further with this advertiser.

    Did I make a mistake?  Well, not in my opinion and I'll tell you why.

    1.  When somebody devalues your service enough to ask for 75% off your price, they are unlikely to value it even if your service is great.  You will be thought of as the "cheap" option. 

    2.  When somebody asks for a discount for their first project or service, they are likely to ask for a discount for their next project.  Your future business is therefore compromised by laying down to pushy discount seekers.

    3.  It is not fair to other clients who have paid your standard rates to give discounts to people just because they ask for them.  I have noticed the number of potential clients asking for discounts has risen recently.  I don't believe that this is solely related to the financial crisis.  This is a well-known and widely shared technique used by large and small companies to save money.

    4.  When you agree to devalue your prices, you also devalue the service you provide.  Believe in what you are worth and stand firm.  Clients will respect you if your service is good and your rates are reasonable.

    5.  Once you discount one client, word will get out and new and repeat customers will begin to expect a discount.  It is a quick and easy way to damage your bottom line.

    But, back to this potential customer of mine.  He no doubt would have paid the amount that he offered.  He was willing to make the transfer.  So why did I turn away "free money"?

    It's not just about getting the cash in the bank.  There is a principle involved and it is important as a small business operator to stick to some firm guidelines.  If you go about it in the right way, you will build a better business.  Use your intuition to sense whether you are being "played".  If you feel someone is taking advantage of you during negotiations, politely refuse their offer.  Remember, it's your business.