How do you handle a client asking for a discount?

Hi guys,

As we all have had I have got one these clients that seems like a real nice guy but just is not educated in everything that we do to give them a professional web presence and has one of those small budgets.

Anyway its not a big project just a website with no backend content management system.

Lets just say i have quoted the client $xxxx + $xxx for maintenance over the year which includes the regular backups + 1 hour of month support small changes etc.

I get a reply like “I must admit the price is a bit higher than I planned, also the maintenance surprised me. If we can round it down to $xxxx we will have a deal”

Ok so this might only be an extra couple hundred dollars in this case, but on a small prohect it still adds up to be greater then 11% in thiscase.

Should you just say yes to this type of deal over the matter of a couple hundred dollars and try get this back from offering him more services in the future. Or should you put your foot down in a nice way and try to explain to them why the costs are there.

After all you dont want to lose the client fully.

I don’t like giving discounts unless its educational or charity I want to support.

It sounds to me like they are either working with very little capital or seriously don’t understand the value of a professional website and the cost to produce.

You could offer to let them spread the cost over a period of time using installments. Or, divide the total cost (dev + maint) by 12 and let them pay monthly. In a year it’s all paid.

Regarding the costs… I often run into clients wanting me to produce a clean and professional business website for less that they spend at the office supply store over a year. That’s nuts. I use that analogy a lot to try and put some perspective into the pricing.

Lastly, suggest that maybe your company and services are not a good fit for them. I rarely lose business because I’m too high since few clients really comparison shop.

I rarely give discounts. The value of my work is determined by real factors, not by a single client’s budget. I dont price arbitrarily so I don’t discount arbitrarily.

I think you have to be somewhat flexible with people, but you also shouldn’t give away the store. If he doesn’t want to pay that much for maintenance, why not tell him you’ll be happy to drop the price as long as he understands that you’ll be reducing the amount of time you spend on maintenance?



What I have them do if they ask for a discounted rate is have them take on some of the workload. Take 10% off and say that they can do some of the work themselves like search engine submission or copywriting. That way they feel like you are giving them a discount and in turn, the amount of time it takes them to do their part, makes them appreciate how much time is involved in doing what you do.

Never drop your price without taking away some of the features or functionality. Alternatively, you can agree to the discount if he pays the entire cost up-front. I’ve offered the latter on two different occassions when the client asked for a “discount.” Neither took me up in it, but I think they appreciated the offer, because they both ended up paying the full price.

I can tell you right now this client sounds like one of those that IF you say yes now they will ALWAYS nickel & dime you on anything you ever do for them…

Do yourself a BIG favor and politely say no, you can give reasons if you want but no matter how you do it say no or you may regret it for quite sometime.

BTW, just a side note. The last jerk that said this to me was asked if he tried to wheel and deals prices in the doctor’s office, dentist chair or at the grocery checkout line! GOD DAMN I hate these cheap chiseling “flea market” mentality losers!

Hi everyone,

Thanks for the replys so far.

Its great to see noone just gos ahead and has given them the discount. Some of these people I dont think realise the work we put into there sites for them and that we arent just a kid knocking up something in frontpage.

Out of whats been said so far. Im not really for the idea of spreading the payments out accross the year as you are getting hardly anything upfront for the development, maybe it is something i could approach with the maintenance though. Also like Raves thought of even just dropping back the maintenance somewhat.

Also dont mind the approach of giving them a slight discount if paying all front in the approach they they are going to lean the other way instead. Has most found that they dont go through with this and end up paying full price?

Anyway thanks for the replies keep them comin

dc well i just had a phone call from this client asking why i hadnt responded to his email yet which i got this morning.

Obviously wanted to get a few opinions first.

Anyway I was put on the spot a little cause I was still working out what i was going to stay. I gave thim the option of cutting back the maintenance a little (which he is totally confused about anyway) or that i could do it for the discount price upfront)

As johntabita has already said that most wont go for that, I got the exact same response.

He also said that the other quote he got was 10% cheaper then mine. When he said that i thought here you go as It would be from the developers around this area knocking stuff up quickly in frontpage.

Anyway so far I have organised a breif meeting with him tomorrow to quickly go over maintenance etc and work out a price. Apparently its urgent to get up and running quickly.

Will keep yous updated on end result.

Well John, finally we agree. I’d like to tell my butcher “I’ll take the T-Bone but I can only pay for the hamburger.” Stubborn man – he just won’t listen! :smiley:

I never budge on price. I might make it 3 payments instead of 2, but I don’t do “discounts” because someone doesn’t have it in their budget. As dcdalton says, that’s usually a sign to duck and run… an omen of things to come.

I get the “sticker shock” attitude quite a bit, though it never seems to deter them from signing contracts and handing over deposits. Of all the ones that really made a fuss over the price, none have gone elsewhere when I stuck to my guns. I just politely tell them that for the exact specifications we discussed, that is the price. If they want to change the price, we need to change the specifications. Simple as that.

When you go to get a house built and you draw up the plans you can’t offer to pay $120,000 on a $180,000 house. They’d laugh you out of the office. You might cut back… 4 bedrooms instead of 5, a 1/2 bath downstairs instead of a full bath, etc. But you wouldn’t get anywhere just demanding a price reduction.

Another issue is that maybe he thinks you need the job. When you seem desperate for business, people can tell. They will exploit that weakness. I don’t have any reservations telling a potential client I won’t work with them if I think it will be “one of those projects.” If they hassle a lot over the price, I’ll usually just send a thank you card and move on. Many of them actually call me wanting to sign a contract and move forward (on the original price quote).

Yup, if this were my prospective client I would be seriously thinking about how bad I needed the money from this job? This just reeks of “I’m going to suck every bit of work out of you for free that I can” more and more very minute!

BTW, If you do get into bed with this guy I hope to god you have an iron clad contract cause I have that “sick feeling in my stomach”, I’ve heard thsi song and dance one too many times!

Isn’t it funny that the people who want it all done ‘urgently’ seem to be the ones with the tiny budgets and the nickle & diming attitudes? Ask any printer what his rates are for rush jobs, and expect to pay double his normal rates.

I have no time for people like this. As you say, 10% represents a couple of hundred $, yet this guy is trying to play you off against someone else and is expecting you to jump through hoops by going into more meetings with him. We’re not talking a large project here where you should be expected to ‘court’ the client to win his favour, we’re talking about some crummy static web site on a skeleton budget - it should be a couple of phone calls and the deal done (IMO). If he wants a meeting, makes sure you let him come to you as this will save you time. After that meeting, he either hires you, or he walks away.

Most people will try to get you to drop the price, that’s only human nature, but never, ever give discounts - just drop features and tech spec, but make sure you explain the pitfalls of doing so.

And if you hate dealing with these people (commodity buyers), make a business decision - only target clients looking for value as their top priority, clients who appreciate that in order to receive a good, measurable return of investment they need to pay a bit more for quality, support and expertise.

Too true.

My standard response to being needled down with a competitor’s quote is “That’s great! So, why are you talking to me?”

When I find a significantly lower price on any comparable product, I don’t go back to the first guy with the price, I simply buy from the second. The only reason I’d return to the first is as a negotiating tactic, or for more information:

In a little understood field like the Web, the client may just need reassurance that he is not being taken advantage of. He will want a justification for your higher price and you must be prepared to give him a good one that he can hang his hat on. This type of client will want to know why the competitor’s price is lower, not just that it is. A little education usually clears this up.

Slightly off topic: [b]I have lost many more jobs by bidding too low, than the reverse.


Don’t just give a discount without changing what you will deliver. For example, you can accept the discount if he pays you upfront 2 years of maintenace, or he will get the discount if he gets you a paying referal customer. Always win something extra when giving a discount. Don’ t be afraid to loose the client, there are plenty.


Personally I don’t see why people are in such a uproar over this…

It’s business, any good businessman is going to haggle on price. If you quote me 10k for a project it would be irresponsible of me not to try to get the price down.

Worse case scenario is you don’t budge and we do the work at the price you quoted.

Now let me be clear that once a price is agreed on, I don’t nickel and dime on the details later on.

tke71709, car salesmen haggle on price. Professional consultants rarely need to. I don’t need to reduce my price - I’ll just move on to the next client rather than work for less. Would you haggle with your attorney or accountant?

Accept the discount he asks for, but ask for all the money upfront. You give him something - he gives you something, both are happy.

Most people here don’t have an issue with getting the price down as we can do that by dropping spec. But there’s a big difference between getting a project price down by fiddling with the feature set as opposed to me just taking 25% off my hourly rate.

I always make it clear that the price I quote is the final price for that spec. I’m no wide-boy wheeler-dealer, and I certainly don’t want my prospects feeling that I overquoted them in the first place, just to see what I could get away with.

Consultants don’t haggle on their rates, they just haggle on specs.

And a car salesman won’t sell you a new Cadillac if you want it for the price of a used Yugo.