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We’ve all been there. You sit with a potential client, review the scope and arrive at the critical point where pricing is discussed. You use all the advice you’ve received about price anchoring, price bracketing, showing the return on investment you’ve delivered for other clients, and yet, your client comes back at you with some version of the response:

  • “But the other agency we are talking to is cheaper.”
  • “I have pricing from a freelancer that is half of your price.”
  • “How much can you come down on this price? I know I can get it done cheaper by someone else.”

These types of comments used to infuriate me and they still get me riled up a little. However, as I’ve come to understand the sales process a bit more, I have developed some empathy for the client on the other side. It is natural to consider a cheaper price. We all do it…with almost everything we buy.

Cost of the Best Alternative

In sales vernacular, this is called “Cost of the Best Alternative” or “Next Best Alternative Price.” It is basically our analysis of the value versus price of each option we are presented with. We consider price #1 and the value it provides versus price #2 and the value it provides. If price #1 is more expensive but does not provide more value than the cheaper price #2, people tend to go with price #2.

The trick in getting your client to spend more to work with you is to help your customer make their purchase decision based on variables other than price. I’ve discussed these different variables in a variety of content (including some of my newsletters) but just to make sure they are included in this piece of content, people will spend more money for greater results, superior quality, faster turn around time, better customer experience, stronger reputation, and long term relationship with their chosen vendor.

Ok, with all of the preparation concepts established we are ready to discuss how to respond to a client who is using their natural right to consider the cheaper price.

Here Is Your Script for the Cheap Clients

Here is how to respond when your client says, “But someone else is cheaper.”

“I’m sure you will find a wide variety of prices from a wide variety of creatives. It is natural to consider different vendors and what they have to offer. We are confident in our pricing and confident that the budget we have quoted you will be sufficient to generate the results you expect.

“In creative services it is usually in your best interest to spend more on a project, not less. You need to make sure that your chosen agency has enough budget to explore creative ideas and develop different options to find the best solution. Less budget means less time to explore ideas, less time to create quality work. A frustrated designer working within a tight budget is usually not going to deliver the quality and results you hope for.

This next paragraph is an optional point depending on the situation. Sometimes I used it, sometimes I didn’t. It just depended on the client.>

“It is also important to make sure you are comparing apples to apples with your potential vendors. Make sure each is planning to deliver the same number of comps, rounds of revision, final deliverables and ultimately the same expected results. Our proposals articulate the exact plan for the project. You will have detailed documentation of our exact process, each delivery round, and every final deliverable. Oftentimes, creatives will have a loose proposal which opens you up to receiving change orders for extra rounds and deliverables…in the end, you end up spending the same amount of money as our bid, but it happens over a frustrating project experience. With us, you will know exactly what you get up front and exactly the investment it will take. So, just make sure you are comparing apples to apples when you choose your vendor.

All that being said, we would be happy to work with and are confident that we will do a great job working within the budget we quoted.”

Make Sure You Hit These Points

This script follows this general outline, which I have used to respond to cheap clients in my past with positive results.

  1. Validate their comment.
  2. Express confidence in your price and start turning the conversation to results (a better reason to choose you over a cheaper price option).
  3. Help them see that it is in their best interest to spend more on their project, not less.
  4. Make sure they compare “apples to apples.” (Optional Point)
  5. Close by expressing confidence, once again, in your price.

Some clients want the cheapest solution. (These people also only shop at the clearance rack of the clearance store.) You’re probably never going to change them. However, the script and outline I’ve given you here will help clients who are merely considering the “Cost of the Best Alternative” to see the benefits of spending more money to work with you.

Michael Janda

I am Michael Janda, an executive level creative leader with more than 25 years of experience in both in-house creative departments and agencies working with some of the greatest brands in the world including Disney, Google, Fox, ABC and NBC. I create books, courses, workshops, lectures and other training materials to help creative entrepreneurs run successful businesses.