Sticker shock is real sometimes, but other times this is a negotiation tactic. It’s up to you to figure out.

Explain why you are different than others and provide proof

This is where you should be explaining and re-framing the context of your service in comparison with what they’ve experienced in the past and/or your unique advantage.

You want to be empathic to their budget restrictions obviously. Simply re-iterate the results you’ve had with past clients and keeping it succinct and to the point that you are helping them accomplish goals and not only building a website, feature, or blog post.

All these things they have heard from you before at length so no need to re-hash it all again.

Then leave it at that and let them fill in the awkward silence. This will start to tell you if it’s a negotiation tactic or reality.

If they don’t have the funds, be understanding and tell them that when they are ready in the future, you are there for them.

Scale back the work to meet their budget

Scale back scope, don’t discount!

If their budget is way off, then scale back the scope of work.

If you’ve gone through the entire sales process and your solution is much more than what they have budget for, then you think and reflect on why that happened in the first place.

Maybe you didn’t ask their budget early on?

Maybe there was a misunderstanding on what the scope of the solution was.

Whatever the case may be, then on the next project you want to fix that. If nothing else, it won’t waste anyone’s time.

When scaling back, be specific about the results that they will get. You want to share with them that because you are removing bits of the project, that certain goals will not be achieved.

Move on

If you are fully booked, or that this haggle was the latest of a list of red flags simply move on.

Be respectful and empathetic to the budget and excuse yourself from being a viable option for them.

You can do this by saying “I completely understand and respect your budget and working with me may not be the best option for you. If in the future, this project gets more funding, then don’t hesitate to reach out.”

How to tell if this is a negotiation tactic or not?

To tell if this is a tactic or not comes with experience. Without being there and hearing the responses it is hard for me to say definitively or not.

This is something that I help my coaching clients on a regular basis with.

However, here’s an example of a tactic as opposed to their actual budget.

Say you give your proposal that it’s $1000 and they respond that they only have budget for $500. Which obviously you wouldn’t do for half and the fact that it’s so far off, the “Move On” option would be your best bet here.

If after that, they came back with $750, then you know it’s a tactic.

If you find a lead or client starting to increase their budget during the conversation or even via email (if it’s a quick response) then it’s a high likelihood that they are trying to get the price lower rather than restricted by budget.

You can’t fault them for trying. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. But be mindful of your margins and don’t sacrifice the sustainability of your business to land a project.

Here’s an important thing to note here. If they are haggling you on your price, then take that as a red flag.

It shows that may not respect the value of what you do and potentially could be telling of how they may take your suggestions and expertise moving forward.

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Running your freelance business

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