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  • #975015
    RaspberryBlack
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    Hi there,

    In the last few months I’ve dealt with quite a few customers that just try to squeeze *everything* out of you. I’m at a point where I’m wondering if I’m too nice? I’m trying to make a point in service and helping my customers with this mysterious web-stuff where ever I can and most really appreciate it which makes work really enjoyable.

    But then there are those people who seem to never get enough. It starts with the quote: I do honest quotes after a pretty detailed assessment of what they need so not to over quote and I don’t add an amount that I can take off as soon as they ask for “that little gesture”. I wonder if I should? And just take it off the invoice if they didn’t try to haggle just to be fair?
    And how do I best react during that haggle? Usually I tell them that I can only take off some features if they want the price down and they usually hastily say something like nononono leave all the features, just go down with the price o.O How awkward is that? I know I should be saying NO at exactly this point and I do whenever I can afford to. But sometimes for whatever reasons (like not being able to resist interesting projects…) I say ok… Then I hope they’re happy and let me do my work as quickly as possible but no. They’ve seen my weakness and start trying to get more out of me. A little graphic here, a little help with their Facebook page there and oh if I could please ask all my friends to like their site o.O Excuse me?!
    If they don’t get what they want they usually get grumpy and never seem quite satisfied, they always find something to nag about (some cases worse than others, have had some who were pretty much happy after all).

    What is going wrong? Can those people just never be satisfied? Or is it just after they’ve seen you give in somewhere that they don’t value your work? Or do they just don’t really know what they want that they jump around and finally settle for scope creep to be sure to get everything they could possibly need?
    i can’t get rid of the feeling yet that these could be valuable customers once you win their trust and appreciation but I’m not sure if this is possible at all… How do you deal with people like that? Any success stories with turning them into your biggest fans or is this just a naive dream?

    Cheers!
    Tina

    #1071873
    JacquiPryor
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    Hi Tina,

    Couple of thoughts – rather than face the “having to say no” awkward discussion – could you do something like offer a payment plan if they believe they will struggle with the invoice amount? This could be done in a way where you still look overly helpful but not having to miss out on your payment? Even with a 50% deposit but “if it assists, I am happy to extend a plan for you to pay the balance in weekly payments”?

    Or, again – depending on your payment terms, could you bring in a ‘prompt payment discount’ for everyone? So, when these people ask you to take something off you can just say “unfortunately, no – but, if you pay the invoice within X period of time you will be entitled to take a X% prompt payment discount?

    For most things we do, payment is up front but for those that aren’t happy with that or unable to do that – for what ever reason, we will offer to take a 50% deposit and balance by installment and that seems to keep them happy!

    #1071874
    Alex Honey: Int Design
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    Hi Tina

    I feel like I understand your experience exactly. I’ve been to a lot of the places you describe, some times more than once.

    In the hope of helping I’ll offer you the following …. from my experience.

    First I think your primary error is in thinking that the clients with a massive WIIFM (whats in it for me) syndrome are behaving this way with you. In fact they are largely unhappy and unsatisfied with everything and everyone.

    You’re just the person in the radar at the time and have fallen into the trap of taking on the job of trying to be the hero that makes them happy or satisfied.

    I guess this is the place where I let you know that its never gonna happen.

    Even if you bend over back wards so they cant possibly have anything to complain about they’ll never be really satisfied and you may as well forget any aspirations of them being grateful or a raving fan.

    In fact, Ive had a few that were disappointed because nothing went wrong that they could then complain about or have a drama to talk about.

    Remember that there are some people who aren’t happy until they aren’t happy.

    In as far as the discount/value issues. My advice. Never discount. Ever. A discount alters the balance in a working relationship and not in a good way. From there, as you say its a slippery slope that never goes anywhere good…and your doing great work for no money and no love.

    When the odd client asks me for a discount I usually laugh…yes literally. Its a great way to communicate that I find their idea laughable. Plus it subtley lets them know that an idea that they haven’t considered beyond their needs or wants has just ‘clunked’.

    I also employ the tactic as you do and suggest what could be left out, letting them know that I think they’ll be disappointed with the result and that it will be more expensive to add those items on at a later date. That usually does the job of letting them know that I value what I offer so I’m not just going to do the agreed work for less. Im also prepared to walk away so there is no desperation for them to feed off either.

    If they are really pushy and are directly asking for a me to cop a discount I simply let them know that I offer great value but haven’t added 10% on to take 10% off. Another one is or ask if they would like 10% less service for their discount?

    I think you know that something underlying isn’t quite right. That’s a good thing – uncomfortable maybe – but good because in my view ultimately the issue you really have is a marketing one. These people are clearly not your ideal clients and from the sound of it they keep coming.

    Perhaps its time to look at your marketing message. Maybe find someone to help you see if you can strengthen it in a way that increases the demand for what you do, proves your value and without a doubt, lets people know that you are going to solve their specific issue so that whatever the price is …its worth it. If you are able to do that then they have already made the buying decision before you give them the proposal.

    A strong marketing plan will weed the wanna be’s out and leave you with open, willing, trusting clients to partner with in the process and ones who will automatically be raving fans because there is a match between what you do and who you are and what they want and who they are.

    So no its not a naive dream to work with great clients who value your work, it wont happen over night …but it will happen (thanks Pantene)

    I hope my ravings are of some help and solace in the meantime its just an art to be nice and nicely say no in the face of a discount demand.

    Good luck and keep up the good work

    #1071875
    MyGreatIdea
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    Totally agree with Alex on this one.

    These are the clients who will suck the life out of you, take away your passion for what you do. If what you are charging is fair, then be confident and don’t waiver – no discounts, no extras.

    That will leave you energy to concentrate on the good clients – the ones that matter.

    Wendy :)

    #1071876
    fredfarcle
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    I think what you (and most others) are experiencing is pretty typical of business practise today, no matter what your industry is.

    Most of my work is submitting tenders for subcontractors in the commercial construction sector, all commercial builders keep a team of contract administrators, whose whole purpose in life is to screw suppliers and subcontractors to the point their bleeding, both on price and payment terms (you might get 65 day payment off the better companies, 120 days or never off the crap ones).

    Some of the things I’ve found that work are:

    Walk away and leave them to someone else, if you’re good they tend to come back after poor experiences elsewhere, hopefully less pushy.

    Always stand your ground, never give away anything for nothing, if I have a CA trying to screw me on price, normally that means I’m somewhere near the market or they wouldn’t be ringing in the first place, so I always look for a trade off, usually better payment cycles and it quite often works.

    Sharp operators are not much fun to work with but the reality is if you can rip 10 to 15% off everyone you deal with, you’re really driving down the cost of doing business.

    #1071877
    NickHumphries
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    I remember reading somewhere.. I think it was by Tim Ferris.

    But it follows the 80/20 principle. 20% of the customers give you 80% of the problems and work.

    You should be the one who ditches these types of customers. There not profitable to your business and there just plain snitches!

    #1071878
    B Cooper
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    Hey Tina,

    This exact situation arises in Michael Port’s book – Book Yourself Solid. He calls it the ‘Red Valvet Rope’ policy. Define the types of the customers that you absolutely love to work with, the customers that encourage and invigorate you, and don’t settle for anything less.

    “But I need customers!” you exclaim, well he tells you how to get more customers than you can handle, all being the types of customers that resonate with you.

    It’s a fantastic read, I highly recommend it.

    Brentis :)

    #1071879
    RaspberryBlack
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    Wow, thanks guys, this is just like one single straightforward answer, no place for doubt :)
    I think I needed that reminder that discounts serve no other purpose than to devalue your own work, and that those never-happy-people just will never be happy (thanks Alex, that was clear :) ). It’s just too easy to start doubting on your own, thanks for getting my head straight again!
    I really love the idea of offering a payment plan – that’s much more logical than a discount (and 10% less service, awesome) if they pretend to have hard times. And I’m still offering a solution instead of just plainly saying no (Well, I probably should… As you’re all saying, these are probably not the most desirable clients to work with…)
    But more difficult are the few who consider themselves influential and tell me if they’re happy with me they’ll recommend me to all the other important people they know. Sure I can get word of mouth for free from everyone who likes what I’ve built, but for some reason they seem to value themselves higher than my other clients o.O They’re not difficult to work with and say they know my work is worth what’s on the quote… but just want something off because they can bring me back heaps of new clients (as they say). I’m not sure if that’s a web-thing. Do you have those as well? How do you deal with them? Would they be offended and run off if I told them they’re not any different from my other clients or do they well know that they’re just drawing a card?

    Nick: Ah 80/20 :) Have read Ferris (awesome!) but my client base doesn’t seem to be big enough yet to really see those 20%. I think if there are people who do an outstanding job telling others about me, I’ll have take that into account, but that probably needs some time to show? I think I remember Ferris said something similar: first you’ve got to try out everything and then see what worked best.

    Brentis: Wow, Book Yourself Solid really sounds like something I want to read :) I’ve read about dream clients but not a single book that really got beyond “know what client you want to work with”… Will definitely read this one, thanks a ton for the tip!

    Cheers,
    Tina

    #1071880
    Shaukat Adam Khalid
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    payment plans with direct debit is a powerful marketing tool. instead of saying $1000+, you can break it down to $20 per week in exchange for the massive meaningful benefits which makes the deal look sweeter.

    it’s why so many big companies offer monthly repayment options.

    i think there is a real need for finance firms that finances high priced, low cost services (low risk, no collateral) in order to reduce defaults and also they can handle debt collection if needed.

    #1071881
    Alex Honey: Int Design
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    Hi Tina

    Great to see your getting back on track with valuing your value.

    In relation to your comments about the ‘big noter’ clients who pull the power play of referal. I would venture that its just chest beating on their part.

    For me personally, a red light always goes off when anyone starts a sentence with IF … that means theres a condition about to follow. ie if you bend over backwards I could recommend you.

    If you really want to capture and be able to measure the amount and value of referal work then just set up a standard system for it. When someone refers a client who proceeds with work over the value of X then the refering party gets an X value gift card to Myer or whatever.

    I’ll wager that the people who say the’ll bring you lots of other clients wont be the ones cashing in a gift card.

    Good luck with it all and keep nurturing those worthwhile clients.

    But more difficult are the few who consider themselves influential and tell me if they’re happy with me they’ll recommend me to all the other important people they know. Sure I can get word of mouth for free from everyone who likes what I’ve built, but for some reason they seem to value themselves higher than my other clients o.O They’re not difficult to work with and say they know my work is worth what’s on the quote… but just want something off because they can bring me back heaps of new clients (as they say). I’m not sure if that’s a web-thing. Do you have those as well? How do you deal with them? Would they be offended and run off if I told them they’re not any different from my other clients or do they well know that they’re just drawing a card?

    #1071882
    PerfectNotes-Kathy
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    Hi Tina,

    If they want a discount because they will give you heaps of referrals, you need a way to say – that’s great, but I have a partner/affiliate program for that – would they like to sign up? Then, when someone says that they were referred by them, they will get a bonus. But, of course, any bonus needs to be earned… Like with your electricity, you don’t get a bonus (reduced bill) when you install the solar panels – you get it once you give back.

    OK – that didn’t quite come out right, but it needs to be politely turned back onto them to prove their value to you – and use as many general examples as possible (like the electricity bill).

    Good luck!

    Kathy

    #1071883
    bridiej
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    I’ve had clients that say to me “Oh yeah, I’ve referred you to heaps of people” and then take ages to pay their bills, as if they expect me to say “Oh, okay, I won’t charge you then”. :rolleyes:

    #1071884
    RaspberryBlack
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    Omg you’re awesome! An affiliate/bonus program, that is so obvious that I just feel like banging my head on the desk :rolleyes: Make them work for a bonus, of course.

    I’ll wager that the people who say the’ll bring you lots of other clients wont be the ones cashing in a gift card.

    I’ve got the same feeling with those since at the moment the already-dream-clients are the ones who really go out recommending me :)

    Awesome, I’ll think about a nice bonus program and be girt for the very next one walking through the virtual door :) Thanks a lot guys, that’s a big help!

    Cheers, Tina

    #1071885
    Steve_Minshall
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    People do not buy services on price as long as your price fits within their expectations and budget. They buy on their confidence in your ability to do the job.

    However, now more than ever, buyers feel like they need to get the best price for everything they buy. When I was making purchases as an employee I knew I would get my butt kicked if I didn’t try and get the best deal I could. Also if I buy something for myself I feel I have let myself down if I don’t get it for the best price I can.

    So what do I believe this means?
    From what I have seen in my business it is more important for people to have asked for a discount than actually getting one.

    All day – every day in our shop we get asked “is that the best price?”, “you give me discount?”, “can you price match?” and in most cases we have 2 stock answers: “we are cut as far as we can be on that product” and “that price is already discounted”. Mostly people just shrug their shoulders and get on with their purchase. They didn’t get a discount but because they asked they know that they got the best deal available and are happy with that.

    People ask for a discount because it cost them nothing to do it and the worse they face is a polite knock back. Offers of referrals and the like is just fluff to make them feel better about asking for a discount (which they feel obliged to do). It doesn’t effect the quality of your offering in anyway and therefore should not effect the price.

    For me the only time we give discounts is for volume buys/bundles. Generally we do not price match because we only really get asked to do this when one of our competitors is doing something stupid with their pricing. Leave them to it.

    Referrals are the reward that a business gets for doing good work. You should not allow it to be used as a bargaining chip for purchasers.

    #1071886
    eevolution
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    Hello Tina, as others have said here before, never, ever start discounting your price. Stand your ground and be happy with the prices you charge. As long as it is relevant to the market rate then you are competing in the same market. Once you start discounting then a few things can happen

    1) The client expects the same rate next time
    2) Worse, existing clients may get wind that you are giving another client a discount and this can breed resentment within your existing client base.
    3) Worse still, you end up working for next to nothing or even at a cost and can miss out on potentially larger contracts catering to the cheap ones.

    It’s a lose / lose situation unfortunately

    A few years ago we were told that our custom database development service was “too expensive” by a potential client. We responded that we pride ourselves on building enterprise level systems with the associated stability and security and it was never our intention to be the cheapest.

    If your work is good and you provide a good level of service then there is no need to cater to such clients. As the old saying goes “Start as you mean to go on”; It’s very hard to increase your prices at a later date without a huge amount of justification 

    Finally, you may have already seen this video but it’s worth posting again. It will let you know that you are not alone with the problems you are facing.

    Best wishes
    Mark

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