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4 Responses to Clients Who Try to Talk You Down on Price

Freelancing Fundamentals

Austin L. Church
4 min readOct 19, 2017


All this talk about fixed-price projects and productized services and monthly retainers might be punching your skepticism button.

Maybe you’re thinking, “My clients would never go for that!”

Here’s what I’d say to your skepticism: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.” Let’s say that you do raise your rates only to have a client try to talk you down on price.

What then?

You’ll soon discover that clients who attempt to talk you down on price aren’t all the same.

  1. Penny Pinchers — One subset of your prospects will always default to the cheapest option. When you politely refuse to give them a discount, they will threaten to look elsewhere. Let them go. Only rarely will you be able to retrain a cheapskate client to focus on value, not price. You may be willing to settle for the money, but you don’t want the headache.
  2. Can’t-Hurt-to-Askers — A second subset will take the attitude, “Why not ask?” When you say no to a price break, they will simply shrug and say, “When do we start?” You’ll realize that you were holding your breath for nothing.
  3. Deal Hounds — A third subset won’t feel like they made a good purchase unless they save money, even if that savings meant losing something beneficial. They treat a quote from a freelancer like a yard sale or flea market. “The price is never the price.” Once you get past the initial conversation, deal hounds can turn into excellent clients.
  4. Budgeters — A fourth subset really do have budget limits. They’re not blowing smoke. They have $2,000 allocated for copywriting, and no brilliant strategy or maneuvering on your part will increase that budget.

You’ll start to notice that price-conscious clients use a predictable set of bargaining tactics.

Arbitrary Claim

“Woah. That’s too much,” they say.

“Says who?” You think. “Given my experience and expertise, the quote is more than fair.”

Blaming the Absent Party

“I can’t spend that,” they say. “My business partner would kill me!”

“Funny…” you think. “You never needed her permission before.”


“I’ll have to think about it.”

“What happened to your sense of urgency?” you think. “Your original email said the deadline was Friday.”

Shopping Around

“Okay. We’re talking to some other people, so hang tight.”

“Why didn’t you make that clear from the get-go?” you think. “If I had known I was just an option, I wouldn’t have made quoting your project a priority.”

All interior monologues aside, there’s nothing wrong with negotiation.

Negotiation will always be a part of business. Negotiation is a fact of life. Make your peace with it.

We all do it, and plenty of businesses and profiteers will overcharge you if you don’t talk them down on the price.

Be that as it may, lots of freelancers dislike conversations about money, and negotiation makes them really uncomfortable.

As soon as a client asks you to lower your price, you cave. You know you’ll regret it later, but your fight-or-flight impulse kicks in. You want to get as far away from that conversation as possible as quickly as possible.

I get it. I’ve been the freelance writer so desperate for cash that I’d say yes to anything other than $0.

I was like the guy at minor league games walking up and down between sections and hawking beer, peanuts, and cotton candy.

“Getcher, getcher, getcher, getcher your web content heeeere!”

Are you afraid to lose a project?

To level up your freelance business, you must be prepared to lose projects.

You don’t have to charge less just because a client asks for a price break. You don’t have to give your clients “a good deal.”

You’re not the bargain bin at the local discount warehouse. You are a professional with valuable skills, and you are justified in charging your clients a premium to make their lives easier and better.

A fair exchange of value is all you’re after.

To level up, you must stand by your prices and stop offering discounts.

Four Responses to Price-Conscious Clients

Though I enjoy thinking about the psychology behind sales, you don’t really need to know or understand your client’s hidden motivations.

Stick to your guns, and stick to the script.

When clients try to talk you down on price, have these responses ready:

  1. Too Expensive: “No problem. What would you like to remove from the scope?”
  2. Budget Constraints: “I totally understand. What if we spread out the payment over three months?”
  3. Budget Constraints: “No problem. I totally understand budget constraints. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to collaborate in the future.”
  4. Shopping Around: “No problem. I’ll take your project out of my production queue. We can set a new deadline once you make up your mind.”


When clients challenge you on price, don’t back down. Use the responses above to politely but confidently steer the conversation away from discounts.

Are you ready to level up your freelancing business?

Take the leap, and raise your prices.

What is holding your freelance business back?

Click on this link, share some basic information about yourself, and let’s figure out how to get you where you want to be.



Austin L. Church

Writer, Brand Consultant, Freelance Coach | I teach freelancers how to stack up specific advantages for more income, free time, fun 🌴