If they can spend 10k, they can spend 15k

I’ve had 3-4 prospects this week that either try to reduce the price I quote them or tell me it’s way out of their budget.

One guy said he thought I said 1500 when I said 15,000.

What’s important is, maintain a brand and expectations.

I thought I’d share how I handled a meeting where the client asked for 10k instead of 15k.

I asked “If I said yes to reducing $5k, how would that make you feel about the service?”

At first he joked and said “it would be great”, but then he clearly understood that if we discounted that much just because, something isn’t right.

Another guy called and pretty much told me to “sell him”.

I replied that I no longer in the business of selling anyone, I’m in the business to help other businesses grow. I then directed him to review our company’s website where he can sell himself.

What’s important in this case is that I established that I’m not another web designer he is trying to get a deal with, I’m an agency owner of a reputable company. If he wants to work with us, it has to be a win-win situation.

Here is the mentality I go by ever since I shifted my mindset:

If they can spend 10k, they can spend 15k. They simply need to see the value which at the moment when he asked, he probably didn’t fully see.

The only reason they ask for a discount or say “I have to think about it” is because they simply didn’t see the value.

Point is, don’t discount your rates just to get the project.

I’m not talking to the people that literally just started and don’t have a single project yet. I’m talking about the agency owners and freelancers that are already up and running but struggling to get higher contracts.


Yes, it naturally seems counter-intuitive (whatever that means), but settling for undervalued work, just to get the work, is one of the worst things a practitioner in any field can do, with respect to sustained success and growth. It may not always be entirely true, but it’s reasonably safe to assume that everyone you work for will want to pay you less than you’re asking. When you give in to that, you’re literally participating in your own downturn, and not only enabling the client to undervalue you and your work, but demonstrating to them that you tried to overvalue it, and take more of their money than you deserve.

As danbrag’s scenario above shows, agreeing to do the same work you quoted at $15k for only $10k is exactly the same as saying, “oh, you caught me; I was just trying to take another $5k of your money for no reason other than greed.” No, you quote a job fairly; a price that’s fair to the client and to you, and you stand on it. Your respectability as a professional virtually depends on that, and respect from your clients is what leads to growth.

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Man this is some great stuff. I’m thrilled to see this kind of encouragement, because pricing is such a big issue (or can be) in the world of a freelance designer.

Standing on price is a given.
However, there is nothing that says you can’t offer value-engineering if the client wants a cut in price.
It’s harder to do that with design than it is for a sign shop like us, but the option is there. Maybe you cut page count, maybe you negotiate who purchases imagery. If you are supply a printed product, maybe you don’t go letterpress. There are usually options.
You don’t undercut your price and your client actually sees you had their best-looking interests in mind.


If a client expects a discount on the first job, they’ll expect a discount on all jobs.


That’s a great point PD. When your quote potentially breaks the client’s budget, leading a competent dive into the elements of the project to find cost savings for both sides is yet another way to earn respect and trust. Freelancers, in particular, are well served by learning to think in terms of business operations as it applies to both their own business and the client’s. Providing effective graphic design solutions is the bottom line, but effective strategy for managing the relationships that bring that work in the first place could be even more important in many cases.

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