What happens when the client can’t afford something? Naturally, the conversation turns to dollars and discounts. “We don’t want to short-cut the solution, yet we can’t afford the price.” In other words, “It’s not in our budget, but we still want it – what can you do?” We talked about establishing value prior to price several days ago, but now the price has been proposed, and the client can’t come up with the money. Or, in another scenario, you have a contract (perhaps recurring revenues through managed services) and the client can no longer afford the level of services originally contracted for. So what do you do? Here’s a simple way to get back on track.
“Price aside….” Money can never become the central issue. People don’t figure out how much they have to spend and then look for something / anything that will fit the budget. At least they shouldn’t. That’s how people end up with a lot of junk they just don’t need. Instead, set the price aside for a moment and figure out what really is needed. If money is tight, scrutinize what the client really does need. Great consulting means improving the client’s condition, not selling more stuff.
So I simply say, “Price aside, let’s look at what we are proposing and figure out if this is really what you need.” Let the client see the pros and cons, the value and risk, etc. Ask probing questions such as, “If we cut this out, people will be able to send any type of sensitive company information through email unchecked. Is that okay with you?” “If we cut this out your data won’t be backed up off site. So if someone forgets to run the back up, the tape fails, or the person who takes it home loses it or it gets stolen, your data will be unrecoverable and on the street. Is that okay?”
Force people to look at the solution, it’s value, the risks and opportunities. They may still not have the money, but if it’s clearly what they need, at least they will want it, may find the money, or start saving for it. Discounting is never the right answer.
© 2010, David Stelzl