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What to say … when the prospect doesn’t have enough money

Posted by Ilise Benun on

In her CFC presentation in 2009, "What Will Your Freelance Business Be When It Grows Up," Petrula Vrontikis told us exactly what to say when your client's budget is too low.

Instead of slashing your prices, you say to them, "I'm sorry but you haven't allocated enough resources to this project." This implies quite clearly that the reason you can't do the project for that price is not because of your high prices but because of their budget.

When it comes to talking about money—the Creative Professional’s Guide to Money provides great language and guidance for a number of money-related situations.

On the Creative Freelancer Blog, Carlos Castellanos suggested: 
#2 Too much $$ 4-12-13

An approach I've used with much success is to ask a few additional questions that help me and my client identify what's of most value and importance to them. For example:

• How will you benefit from having this project done…
• What's most important to you about this project…
• What's the end result you most want to accomplish…

These types of questions do several things. It helps you identify where the client places value and gets them to verbalize those values and benefits. You can then move forward addressing how working with you will accomplish each of those objectives most important to them.

While it's true many clients are more price sensitive in today's economy, they are also more value conscious. BTW- value does not = lowest price. There are many clients out there that are ready, willing and able to pay higher fees for products and services if shown the value and benefits most important to THEM will be addressed and achieved by working with you.

Though, at the core, I think the bigger issue is one of "message to market " and business positioning. That is to say, how you are presenting your marketing message combined with the market you're delivering it to and where that positions you in relationship to your competition. I know, I know, it's a bunch of marketing speak, however…

If ALL of my clients were trying to low ball me, it would seem to me that perhaps there is something in my marketing material (my message) that is responsible for attracting these people to me. Wrong message to market. Conversely, I may have the right message, but addressing the wrong market.

Credit: Illustration by Iain Keith of

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