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If you're sick of getting paid less than you're worth, you're making this mistake
Last Updated August 29th, 2013

A few weeks back, someone complained to me, and said “I really hate when people try to haggle my rates.”

You see, this person was a freelancer. And while they agreed that some freelancers cut corners and treat their clients poorly, they didn’t operate like that. They actually put the work in.

He then asked, “How can I stop people from haggling me down? How can I get paid what I’m worth?”

So I shared 3 tips with him, and a word-for-word script he could use to prevent clients from haggling down rates.

And right after I did that, I was like, “This needs to be a Social Triggers TV video.”

And so it is.

How to Prevent New Clients From Haggling Your Rates

In this video, I share 3 tips that apply to ANYONE who feels like their prospects try to haggle too much.

(These tips will help you deter hagglers)


I also share a word-for-word script you can use to convince these people to pay your full price.

After you’re done with this video, I want you to do TWO things:

#1. I want you to tell me a story about a time when someone tried to haggle your rates. Leave a comment, and tell me how it made you feel. Tell me how you responded to them. Share anything you can that you think will benefit the Social Triggers community.

#2. Do you have a friend who you think is plagued with pesky “hagglers?” Someone like a wedding photographer, a freelance writer, or anyone that offers products and services? Send them a link to this video.

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177 comments Leave a comment

Thanks mate. The last two jobs I’ve taken have been an embarrassment as they’ve paid me peanuts for makin them hundreds of thousands. When there isn’t enough jobs that match my disciplines, and I don’t have the resources to make these jobs that match my career happen, Its best to seek career opportunities where there is more hope. The social trigger I am talking about here is environmental framing. As a married man sponsoring a wife from overseas, Givernments and businesses see this as the perfect constraint to exploit my potential. In desperation to make others happy, namely my wife, I take these jobs which in no way match my career trajectory, and the spiralling continues. To resolve this issue I have deleted these jobs from my resume as they encourage other employers to get away with the same.


Thanks again Derek, for an informative video. My motto is: NO PAY = NO GO!

Kevin Lang

This is what you get from Outsource.com.
…being careful of what to say….but grateful.

“Kevin, you have received a job request for Web Development”

“Looking to get an informational custom webpage for my business with about 10 to 15 pages. Need high resolution & high quality web page. Must have portfolio with examples of past work to view before descision to hire you for work on webpage. Have $1,500 for webpage to complete work. Need expert with all the skills to get webpage completed, which may require more skills than what are listed under skills needed.”

all respect for everyone here!


Kevin Lang

I just started as a freelance – WordPress Theme customization’s on Outsource.com.
I have been developing websites since before GoLive part time (1997) it was called something else before that…can’t remember the name. If you don’t have any css or html, photoshop, Illustrator and basic know how of SEO knowledge the WP Admin can be daunting. The best software for making websites for me. Thanks WP!!!

I build complete website’s from themes I get from Themeforest and Elegant Themes. Mostly for small mom & pa or brick n mortar professional services – Electrician – Roofing – Landscape Contractors – Opticians Office – Windows & Doors Installation.

Home – About Us – Services – Photo Gallery – FAQ’s – Reviews – Coupons – Blog – Contact Us

I include a Facebook Fan Page, A good Working Contact form with a Thank you email sent to client with their logo in the header., all titles and keyword research, Twitter or whatever Social media site they already have.

If they are brand new to owning a site I will provide a FB Fan Page. Set up domain name hosting with Bluehost. It takes 60 to 90 days to completely finish depending on how quick the client get”s the content to me and any graphics, logo they want or already have.

I have sent a few quotes on Outsource. Some understand the value, most don’t. They want to pay nickels on the dollar, and I’m sure they find just that.

For a 12 – 14 page website as described above I charge $4500.00 – 5000.00. And I have many referrals that will pay when they see my sites and talk to my clients. It takes roughly mmmmm depends how smooth it goes, i would say at least 5 – 3 hours a day actual designing in WP Admin and another hour brainstorming the structure and logical placement of text. i would say at least 300 hours or more…not sure cause I design until I’M satisfied it looks rock star on mobile, mac, pc. and all modern browsers.

I’m a perfectionist, if it’s not looking our flowing well when I navigate the site….I will work until it is.

So I sent a few quotes to some clients that needed just the same kind of website. I was blown away! I felt insulted. There budget was under a $1000.00 and they wanted a full website. And they stuck to there price even after negotiation.

I have not found any work on Outsource, and will not work for peanuts.

Thanks for the video! It really enforced exactly what I did, I told them good luck with your project I wish you success.

What are we professionals gonna do? Watch the web go to quirky, browser crashing Wix Websites?

Thanks for allowing me to post.



Hi Derek- I just viewed your video! Very helpful.
Thank you.
If I all ready am in the middle of negotiating with
a client (I’m a photographer) & they are relentless,
is it time to say bye? They stated a budget, I followed
your advice & gave them options, they demanded more. Sticky as they are friends. Not good ones, but I want this to run smoothly.


    I’d say it’s pretty bad if friends want to hire you and want to pay way less than what you’re asking. IMO better to have them hire a stranger than to work with people you know. Somehow they feel that you’re not worth the price you ask. Better off without them, as the other woman stated. I’d say “It makes no business sense to cut my rates for a single client. My pricing is my pricing. It is not going to change.” <— got that from another article I read recently and it's liquid gold!!

    Jacquelyn Lynn

    I’ve occasionally had to tell friends I won’t work for what they’re willing (or able) to pay. Also, without fail, every time I have let emotion rule and gone below what I knew I should be charging for the work involved, it ended badly. The fact that they’re this demanding now tells you what they’ll be like later. I know you’re asking Derek and not me, but it sounds like you’re at the point where it’s time to say, “This is the best I can do, and if it doesn’t meet your requirements, you should find someone else.”


Hi Derek- I just viewed your video! Very helpful.
Thank you.
If I all ready am in the middle of negotiating with
a client (I’m a photographer) & they are relentless,
is it time to say bye? They stated a budget, I followed
your advice & gave them options, they demanded more. Sticky as they are friends. Not good ones, but I want this to run smoothly.

Adam Erhart

Great video, thanks so much Derek.

I think point #2 is spot on.

I had a few people haggle over prices at the beginning of my career, but communicating value was the key to stopping that. People don’t want to compromise on value!

Joey Cagle

Actually got rid of my Request A Quote form. I now have a website worksheet. The form asks for more detailed information to help me do some research before I even meet with them.

They won’t even get a quote until I understand the businesses pain points and until I know the problems that I’m solving and the solution I want to offer them that solves the problems.

It takes a few meetings.

And one of the mistake freelancers make is getting that quote, because they want to get that job and get it quickly, without knowing the client.

But this is good stuff here, definitely.

Sandra González

I had my prices published in my website and guess what, the clients just didn’t read them, it was pointless. So I took them off and now I just send them an email with the prices or tell them by phone. And yes, I used to get angry when the clients wanted me to lower my rates but finally learned to say NO. And these days, I’m learning how to not work for free for my so called “friends”.

Dan Woodruff

I agree that it makes sense to publish your prices on your website. We do this and it’s a great filter. We also use it as a differentiator since we can compare our charges to the industry standard and explore why we do things differently.

A client recently tried to haggle “out of principle”. This shows why it’s key not to get offended when someone asks. We used a method similar to the one Derek suggests and it worked. We also added that we yet to be fair to all our clients so that no one gets a better deal than another.

AJ & Serenity Services

This is another excellent video Derek! I will definitely rewrite my “Contact Us” page so that I only encourage qualified prospects to reach out to me and my partner.

Lex Bergan

I just found this post as I was dealing with a photography client that wanted to change pricing on wedding photography. I was so happy to hear what you said because it’s been a major sticking point in my business whenever dealing with clients that are requiring this specific service. Even though my prices are at industry average for my area (or below them) I find that I get a lot of clients requesting hourly or bottom of the barrel rates.

Here is my email response (in part):
Dear X,
It sounds like this is going to be an extremely special time in your lives. I’m happy for you to be able to celebrate yourselves and your special day with people that are near and dear to your heart.

I hear you saying that you may need less shoot time and you’re interested in finding out what an hourly rate can offer you. In order to respect each event and client, I don’t offer hourly rates to clients doing weddings, vow renewals and commitment ceremonies.

These types of special events have 3 key issues that make them incompatible with that kind of pricing structure; the importance of the day, unexpected events and the true cost of my hourly rates / a la carte packaging.

I find that in order to do my best and give my clients the best the package deal provides the level of service and delivery that is expected for such an important life event.

I can offer you the following; if you want to get the basic package I could add an engagement session as a gift from me to you and give you a 10% discount IF you paid in cash up front.

I’d love to earn your business but unfortunately I can’t offer you the hourly rate. I hope you’ll consider me and let me know if you have questions or concerns about what I’m offering you / the value of the package.

If you have thoughts on how I can make that email more persuasive please feel free to comment below! I’m hoping to grow my business and be the best negotiator in this situation.

Thanks, Lex.

    David Kenward - The Mental Coach

    Lex, my friend Bob is a videographer who makes short videos for businesses. I told him during our weekly business brainstorming meeting that when someone wants me to give them a pre-consultation “ballpark” estimate for my professional services, I usually say Fenway Park (I can’t give a price until I know what they need). Bob popped out with, “what kind of ballpark do you want to play in, Fenway Park or your neighborhood sandlot!” That’s so good, I’m going to use it, myself. It’s about building value for your great services, Lex. And watch Derek’s video on the $300 haircut (if you haven’t already).


This is one of my favorite videos of yours, Derek. When my man and I first put his artwork online, it was de rigeur/gallery standard (how’s that for fancy?) not to list prices for paintings. We decided to post them anyway, and it’s been a fabulous filter since Day 1. Eliminating that question mark right up front helps us target our ideal clients in a big way, because the people who are totally turned off by the price aren’t the people we are aiming to serve, anyway. (For the record: we have also started offering reproductions at various price points, so our business has grown into three main tiers of clients: originals, limited editions, and standard prints/posters/greeting cards, etc.)

More recently, we have put a cap on the number of custom paintings my partner will do for private clients each year (10), and we state this cap as well as the minimum charge for a custom painting right on the website. (The cost of a piece goes up from the base charge depending on painting size and the overall complexity of the subject matter.) We still get people haggling, but a lower painting cost just means a smaller painting for the client, and nobody pays less than the base charge. The more we have treated *ourselves* as professionals, the more we have been regarded as professionals by our clients and potential clients. Thanks for the script to help us tighten up our COMS even more!

Susan B. Bentley

Great advice Derek, thank you! I especially love the contact page changes and the script, both of which take the personal out of the game. I’ve just changed my contact page and am in the middle of changing my positioning throughout my website so here’s hoping!

Leslie Miller

A client I’d had for two years sold her business and went out on her own as a solo act. She told me, “Leslie, I love your work, but now that my business is so much smaller, I could get the same thing done for a fraction out of India or the Phillipines.”

I replied, “That’s a great idea. That might be the perfect solution for you.”

You’ve never seen anyone backpedal so quickly.

Many months later, I stopped working with her. A few months later, I got an email from her offering to pay me DOUBLE my going rate if I would “come back” to her.

I found the whole thing kind of funny. Here are my tips as a freelancer for the past five years:

Give value. Be the best at what you do. Know your worth. And don’t be attached to any particular client or job.

Ryan Kristafer

I host and emcee special events on-stage, across the country, so I can’t really say “I don’t like to rush through any jobs…” as everything is on-site. Any suggestions how to tweak this part?

Leonaura Rhodes

Thank you so much! I’ve been totally crap at this! I’ve already changed my website, now to add to my script! I’ve shared with my facebook writers group: Coaches Who Write!

Charles Musselwhite

Great post Derek.

It is empowering to know that it is okay say “NO.” For far too long business owners have felt obligated to take business from anyone willing to pay them (even it meant being haggled). We started saying NO and firing some of customers over a year ago. It was scary but rewarding to see most of the lower performing customers replaced by higher caliber clients.

I think we’re going to employ a little swipe and deploy with your script.

    Lee B

    Love how you say you “fired your customers!”


I think we may just start using a version of this script – great stuff!

Lee B

FANTASTIC advice Derek, and great scripts (both in person and the ‘filter’ on your website. I could give you LOTS of examples of when people tried to talk my price down, and I did pretty well in justifying my price at the time. (I was a ‘pioneer’ providing a product that many people at the time (the 90’s) had no idea it existed, much less were willing to pay big bucks for it. In the last ten years, it’s become commonplace now, and people don’t bat an eye at the going rate. Unfortunately– I retired from that business, LOL)

I have a question related to this video, a twist on it… What do you say to the haggler when it’s a friend, a relative, or even a stranger who has fallen on hard times and just told you their life story, making you feel guilty for not giving them a break? What do you say to THOSE people, that try to haggle your price down? Everyone wants a deal, sure, like you said though, you don’t have to give it. But when it’s a friend or family member, they get downright OFFENDED that you won’t cut them a discount. How do you suggest to handle that situation? (Maybe another video?… Friends who try to Haggle you)

    David Kenward - The Mental Coach

    I say: “I have a limited amount of time for pro-bono/reduced-rate/sliding-scale clients, I’ll be happy to put you on my waiting list for that.”
    Regards the guilt factor, I ask myself, “if I can’t pay my electric bill, will the person who wants my services for free give me [whatever I charge for my services] to help pay my electric bill? That is a great perspective and reality check.

Jason Miller

Thanks for the great advice I wish I had a lot sooner! The comments are just as valuable as the original video which is a nice bonus.

I am constantly haggled by would-be clients as very few people understand the real business value being delivered by engaging a outside consultant. They are constantly bombarded by ultra cheap Software-as-a-Service ads with easy interfaces and gorgeous website templates to get them started, confusing the medium for the message. The real challenge begins well before the website is even built.

I am negotiating with a professional services provider who wants to increase business by a very specific amount. Not knowing how much of an increase that represents to the total, I tailored my questions to better understand how far the needle is expected to move to achieve the stated goals. If a prospect can’t establish basic benchmarks ahead of a project, chances are we won’t be successful no matter how much they spend or what concessions I am willing to make on the deal.

I shared this video out to my network, many of whom are freelancers and entrepreneurs who will get a lot of value from the Social Triggers community I suspect. I’ll report back any results from my contact form changes: http://www.inthebakery.com/contact.


paula schuck

People haggle with me all the time. But it’s not even smart haggling – it’s so offensive sometimes. I shared this one with my husband the other day when we were driving – I pitched a twitter party at say (I’ll make up a random figure here – $25.) and then they come back and say Oh no we can’t do that but we’ll pay you $2. WTH? Um no I say $23. Still too expensive – how about working for gift cards? Huh? Then I actually stated well I have never ever gone lower than $21 and frankly many companies and bloggers are now getting $5 K for a party. Oh well we can’t afford you and we’ll pass. Okay I can’t do the work for under $21. They walk. I refuse to compromise more than that. One month later they returned – good news we can do that party at $22. But we want it for 3 days from now. OY!!! Did the job, did it well and got a great turnout. But it’s so random and bizarre to me. Unbelievable how some people barter.

Sharon Worsley


Another invaluable post!!!

I loved your idea about how to better set up the contact page, so much that I have already posted your link in 7 different FB groups I am in, with authors, coaches , speakers and internet marketers.

I will be sending this to my outsourcer this week to make the necessary changes.



Thanks Derek. I agree especially with #1. Just going into a negotiation understanding what to expect totally changes the nature of that negotiation.

Don’t be surprised or offended when people haggle on price. It’s always the same shit. I’ve sold $50 commoditized sports supplements, six figure investment opps and other price points in between. People haggle no matter what they’re buying or how much they’re spending.

Especially if you sell services, learning how to negotiate is crucial for any biz owner. If you don’t know how to stick to your guns and command what you’re worth at the table, you’re not gonna be around for long.

Rebekah Radice

This is so incredibly timely for me. I just made the decision to walk away from a corporate job and back into entrepreneurship. I am in the midst of building out my services and love your advice.

I am adjusting language on my contact form and including this based on your video – “If you understand the value of social media and content marketing, now is the time to look to a professional to assist in the presentation, strategy and management of your online presence.”

My goal is to qualify every potential client before I ever speak with them. Having been self-employed previously for over 15 years, I know the value of my time. However, starting all over again, I see how easy it is to fall into the “I need every client” mentality. I won’t do it and you’ve given me more ammo to stay clear of that trap. Thanks Derek!

Matthew Jeschke

I just say, no and walk away. I typically won’t even negotiate. Honestly, this earns me money as I have time to help more premium clients and less time spent wasted on free work for low paying clients.


I’ve been re-designing my primary landing page this week and I’ve been debating publishing my rates.

I charge well above most of my industry, but I provide a service well above the competition. I’ve gotten sick of working with people who run when they have to actually pay *gasp* for amazing content for their site.

So, you’ve convinced me. I’ll publish the rates and use your tips with any would be hagglers.

dora g

Just applied the script in my reply to a customer asking for a price cut. Will see how it works out.

Derek, what if a customer (a current customer of several years) is asking for a price match with your competitor’s offer? I don’t feel like dissing my competitors. Is there anything else I can do other than re-state the high quality of the service I’m providing?

Anne von Aichinger

Great points, Derek! This is why clearly positioning yourself first is essential. It’s also important to remember we always have the choice to stay or walk away from a potential client. I’ve done that a few times. So, hold your ground! I also like your idea of offering an alternative price point.


Hey Everyone,

I sell beats online for rappers and that little script just made me realise that I’ve lost at least 10 sales this week. I LOVE SOCIAL TRIGGERS! Wish I could find these a year earlier!

Michael Hicks

“When you invite anyone to contact you, anyone will
contact you.” Ain’t THAT the truth??!!!

We teach people how to treat us. If we don’t inform
prospects that we expect professional rates for our
work, they are right to assume that we are being less
than professional. Hence, the haggling wars begin…

Wonderful stuff, Derek. Thanks so much!


Great video “Don’t get offended” hit home, especially with my potential Wedding clients, now planning to check contact form on my website


Great video, “Don’t get offended” hit him, plan to put this into practice with my potential Brides and now rushing to look and change my contact form

Lou Johnson

I’m going through your videos all at once. I’ve been busy. Thanks for the tip. My ploy that I’ve been using to help customers to be happy is that if can’t afford me and my talents as a Corporate Magician and Juggler, my WIFE is available as a party lady or clown for lower budget birthday parties. We hear yes more often and get more money coming in on a wider spread down the demand line. I’ll change my words above the Contact Message to reflect our higher price.


Great video Derek, thanks for sharing those tips!

I can honestly say that I don’t get haggled much about my rates, but I don’t charge enormous rates either…that’s part of the reason why I couldn’t sign up for your blogging workshop…but I digress.

I have found myself in a position where I wanted to turn down business however, and what I did was give a quote I knew the prospect could not afford and the quote was the actual value of the service. Let’s just say I’m still waiting to hear back their decision…hehe.


Clients used to do that for me long time ago. Now, they just do what I tell them to do.

How I did that? Established myself as an authority, refuse to accept clients if they are not recommended by another client. In one word – scarcity.


… or say it simply with the slogan I once say in an automotive parts store:

QUALITY is like oats…

If you want QUALITY oats, you have to PAY a FAIR PRICE, however…

If the oats have already gone through the horse, the price is cheaper!


I recently worked for a less-than-reputable SEO company and believed we came to an understanding about my rates when I was hired – a month later and they MASSIVELY undercut me. So depressing.

I think I prefer to do SEO for myself only and have people pay up front. Considering getting a j.o.b. but after 8 years as a freelancer its hard to sell myself on that idea.

Rebecca Behrent

These are some good tips. As an artist/craftsperson who sells on Etsy, but most of my sales actually come from shows, I’ve had to deal in person with people trying to haggle where it concerns my prices. Sometimes all they need is an education about how long it takes me to produce my work, and an understanding that my products are handmade here in the U.S.A., not China where workers are paid considerably less. I think, in my case, people sometimes are unconciously comparing the price of a bag I make (most are one-of-a-kind) with a mass-produced cheaper bag that they can buy at Wal-Mart. Once I bring their “unconcious” comparisons to the forefront, a lightbulb seems to go on. Most people, however, do not haggle with me and clearly understand that my prices are very reasonable.


Wah! Exceptional Video Derek! Enjoyed it!


Hey Derek,

I think you make some great points.

A few other things that I’ve done to guarantee that I’m only talking to premium people for my services is:

– force everyone to fill out an application to be a client. This positions it differently and weeds out a lot of the time wasters.

– charged for initial consultations that most people would do for free to try and win the client. This allows me to get paid for my time with the person, provide value to them and at that point I can decide if they would fit into the type of client I want.



Priceless wisdom – educating and empowering your clients to make informed choices based on the value we create, as opposed what they perceive (before being educated about the value of professional web design).

We can’t blame clients for being uneducated about our trade, but we can/must take responsibility to explain and demonstrate clearly how our service or product will impact their bottom line.

A solution, service, product has NO inherent value, but derives its value from how it solves a problem, fills a need, or helps to reach a goal. If our so-called solution is not directly linked to a goal, need or problem it will be commoditized, and clients WILL haggle.

My 2 cents. Great piece Derek!
ciao, Rob

Debi Davis

When people want to haggle over my price I’m offended — but, I’ll take your advice and try not to be in the future. The reason I’m offended, though, is because my price is an honest price, and if someone questions it, I feel like they’re questioning my honesty. In reality, they’re probably haggling because they think they’re supposed to. So, you’re right, I shouldn’t be offended.

I’m going to try your tactics — particularly the wording you offered. One other thing I’ve tried — and it goes along with your advice to be selective — is offer the names and numbers of two other service providers that do the kind of work they need done. It feels good to offer an option, and its an effective way to end a conversation that is costing me time at this point. Here’s the kicker: every time I’ve done this (although I haven’t done it often enough), I end up with the work. Usually, the person decides on the spot to sign my contract. Probably because they don’t want to waste any more of their time interviewing other service providers. Sometimes, they person comes back to me after checking the other service providers, having found out that my price is valid, and appreciative of my honesty.

Thanks, Derek, for knowing how to pick the topics, and for making the solutions look easy.


Darren Craig

I had a client on a cheap job recently when starting out. I took it on knowing it may be one of those but took it on anyway, with a budgeted amount of hours saying I’d warn when 2/3 through and gave an hourly rate for extra. ( I said this as I knew I’d get a lot of time consuming questions).
When warned they said they had no budget for extra, it was more time consuming to try and have the whole ‘im not working for free’ discussion so I invoiced, charging the extra hours then discounting the same to make a point. We were both frustrated by this point.
Immediately I got an email back saying to charge the full amount as I should be happy with what I got. I split it in the middle, but wish they’d done that up front as all it proves is they did have the budget, and I spent more of my time discussing it.


Those people make me feel astonished. And then used.

I have never been willing to haggle unless I’ve raised the price, first. And everyone hates that. I think that’s the street-market way in poor neighborhoods.
However, I have bartered on occasion: Get me an additional client or a guaranteed head-count and I’ll knock some off.
But not much.
Paying by halves is great, though. I like that idea. I charge one special client by the week. She pays diligently, and sometimes has to go to the bank, first to do it, but she is paying what anyone would, has paid thousands, one week at a time, and I’m okay with that. She says, “I can’t do it without you,” and hands me one week’s installment. Bless her. It’s a bit of a hassle, but I’m willing to go that far, to see someone improve.
My daughter is an artist and charges by the hour. It is amazing how little people want to pay for very good, custom portraits, etc. When they object to her prices, she tells them, “Hey, it’s about $10 an hour.” They change their tune, then. Or they walk away, at least knowing how very long good art takes to produce.
And when my husband stalled on buying me some extravagantly expensive perfume for our anniversary, the saleswoman said, “It’s about $2 per year! Give, already!”
Love that bottle of perfume!


This post really hit home.

We have been struggling with this for quite some time. We have been slowly weeding out those who refuse to pay us on time for our ongoing services as well as the “cheap” clients who expect everything for nothing. Since 90% of our business is referral business, it is very difficult to just “turn-away” those “cheap friends” of your most trusted clients. We too have found that those “cheap” clients end up being the most difficult to please and most almost always pay late. We struggle with this concept to this day. Thanks for the great information…this really helped us out and spawned some ideas.

Sarah Barrett

Thanks Derek!

Great video and script! I will adapt for my consulting business. The haggling is up there with “Can I take you to lunch and pick your brain?”


Thanks a bunch!

    Debi Davis

    Excellent point! I’ve tried to hold to two rules in situations like this:
    1) the lunch (or coffee, or whatever) is limited two one hour.
    2) That is the first of no more than 3 conversations before a contract is signed. After that, I see these as time-wasters that are keeping me from finding real business.

    Good luck, Sarah!

Chris Johnson

When someone haggles – without a concession – we immediately and permanently disengage. It’s a firm rule.

A concession can be anything – “if we prepay in full can we have $500 off” is totally fine.

Even : “If I promise to promote you will you take $800 off.”

But if they just say “Take $800 off,” that’s trouble and we disengage immediately and abruptly. The reason: we’ve learned that people that ASK that question have been the clients that have put us into revision hell.

That’s a bigger risk to us than not having a client.

Jordan J. Caron

I just had a conversation with my web designer. He gets haggled all the time. And I just got haggled from a business owner to do SEO work.

So it was a rant session. At the end of it we agreed that it’s best to walk away. This was my first time dealing with it. But not his first.

We’ll be using your tips from now on Derek. However I think we need to target business owners who sell higher end products and who invest money into their marketing.


Hi Derek,

Thanks for the tips and the script. It helps a lot.

I’m a content developer for trainers and I get asked to lower my price a lot. Sometimes when they’ve already agreed with my asking fee, they’ll request for more revisions and additional content after the project started so it really takes up a lot of my time.

I get so frustrated sometimes that I turned down a lot of clients who are hagglers. But I know this is not the solution as I cannot keep turning down clients.

Your tips here really help a lot. Appreciate it.

Rivka Kawano

Like your best video EVER Derek – and I love so many of them. Will definitely be using this script. Thanks! 🙂

April Smith


Excellent tips! I am about to go through a site relaunch/design and have been on the fence about my pricing, etc. This definitely helped. So often I have individuals who want to “negotiate” the price — and let’s be honest, sometimes I do, but moving forward, apply these tips will help put more money in my pocket.

Looking forward to your other tips..


Marc Weisberg

DEREK, Great tips and scripts bros. thank you, Marc-


Great tips Derek. Thank you. I have set coaching rates that hopefully rule out people with a ‘poverty’ mindset. If potential clients complain about my prices then I know they wont be willing to do the work required. I’m learning so much from you – it’s great 🙂

Neal Wiser

I have a client who keeps asking for more without any expectation of compensation. I don’t mind going the extra mile for a client, especially when they’re a friend of the family, but it’s a totally ridiculous situation. Last month, she began pressuring me for more changes. When I told her it would require a Change Order (i.e., more money), she balked. My rebuttal to her was that she’s taking advantage of the relationship (and of me), and she really needs to learn when to stop asking for more. I then threatened to “fire” her, and meant it. Finally, she started easing back, but the relationship has been terribly poisoned.

Gemma W.

Thanks for your tips, Derek. They are helpful and so are the tips shared in the comments. 🙂 Very cool.

I haven’t visited here for ages because your videos either had zero, or very messed up subtitling which turned me off, fast. I’m deaf, so I rely on them for audio/video. But I was surprised this time to see that even though you still rely on automatic captioning, it had improved enough for me to get most of what you were talking about.

Beatrix Willius

Great script. I can adapt this quite well to my software business. I sell my Mac software for 34.95$.

With the race to the bottom in the Mac App Store my software is rather expensive. Just today I got an email saying that a company doing the same software on the Windows side is offering free licenses for private use. I replied that they finance this with the server version of the software, which I don’t have at the moment.

Actually, being compared to this much larger company was quite a compliment for me and my software.

The Get In Shape Girl

That’s a very helpful script. I am not a freelance writer, but sometimes people do not understand my prices for online training. This is definitely something I could use to help people understand my value for what I do.

Nitin Aggarwal

Thanks Derek for the post. It’s very informative and i like the concept not to target everyone. Rather just find the right match who is willing to pay for your service.

Also your price point theory to negotiate work is very effective.


Hey Derek,

Good article, as usual.
Just wanna ask, where is your archive category ?

Wanna get through your old stuff and could not find them.


Alex Clifford

I had one client who I suspected would be a bad fit from the start. They wanted a sales email to sell a £12,000 sponsorship package. But wanted a discount from £100.

Talk about penny-pinching!

I refused – they were ok. I wrote the email, and got it to a stage where we were both happy.

Then we just wanted to check it with her CEO… and he rewrote the thing from scratch!

I promptly fired them as a client.


PS. Totally agree with you Derek – and I’ll put those steps into action on Monday.

Martin Stellar

If none of the above help and they still want to haggle, tell them this story:

Picasso was drinking a Pastis on a Parisian terrace. A wealthy lady walked over, held up her poodle, and asked if he could please draw the pooch for her.

He grabbed a napkin, scribbled down a few circles and triangles, and handed her the piece. That’s 25,000 Francs, please.

“Mr. Picasso, so much??? It only took you five minutes!”

Picasso said: “No madam. That took me 25 years.”

If that doesn’t get a prospect to understand the value *behind* what you actually do, at least it shows them that you *do* know, and that you respect yourself.

And if that doesn’t get them to respect you, and all the savvy you bring to the table, you really don’t want them as a client anyway.

It’s a great way to cut short haggling.

(Sorry if this was a tangent 😉

Paul Back

Hey Derek

Great post and video you really create actionable advice anyone can use.

I’d like to take things one step further not only should you be turning the wrong customer down, but you should be quantifying how much value your services are worth – It shouldn’t just be how much your time is worth per hour but how much of a ROI your work is going to bring for a customer.

Much more goes into physical work than just effort, you have to have knowledge and understand the underlying principles and then apply them to specific situations for your customer ( in a service related job) and this should all be factored in.

What I am specifically saying is that you should do your best to screen customers via some disqualification methods (i.e. show what conditions people have to meet to be able to work with you) this adds value and has the added benefit of sending you higher quality customers.

You should also set the frame that your potential customers rush to work with you, and are actually excited about what you can provide for them ( if you can’t fill this criteria then you probably aren’t thinking hard enough or are in your field for the wrong reasons)

I hope this extends on what you are saying and goes to help some people out.

Thanks for all the great posts Derek

Paul Back

Michelle Dale

Loved this video Derek, so true. I would say “Thank you for your understanding” at the end rather than I hope… I think the affirmation is more, shall we say, closing…

Kyle Alm

That was the best video I’ve seen for freelancers and entrepreneurs I’ve ever seen. This should be #1, how to haggle and defend your price.

I’ve had to fire clients before and it’s stressful, but it’s freeing also. You never realize how much time they actually take until they are gone.

Nyk Danu

I used to get hagglers on my private Yoga sessions. I Also used to get people looking for the types of sessions that I knew were not going to work well for them or fit there needs (sometimes what people want isn’t what they need). So I sat down and created 4 kinds of private sessions, I made sure only to include the what I knew worked & I could get excited about offering. Then I prices them clearly on my site. Now if people reach out about private sessions I refer them to that web page and tell them when they have had a chance to look it over to email me and we will arrange a consultation. This has removed all hagglers and I feel better knowing by the time I consult with them they are ready to get serious and pay my rate.

Louise @ Foxy and Fabulous

Derek this is perfection, couldn’t say it better myself. Bravo on improving the production values of your video too, ESPECIALLY taking on board me begging you to wear a collared shirt 😉

Cassie Witt

I have some clients that I do work for on a monthly basis. Occasionally they ask me for a quote to do something new. In the past, when I’ve been turned down for a price point, I just walked away. Then, one day I had an epiphany. Since they are monthly clients, I could break the work up over a couple of months. This helps with my client’s budget and also with my time-management. I do always let them know that if they take that option, the work will take longer. I have found that a lot of businesses are willing to make the trade, if it won’t hit their pocketbooks quite so hard.


A common objection I get when trying to book a Hypnotherapy session is that the price is too high ($150 for an hour). Usually when they try to haggle with me it makes me feel super frustrated.

Sometimes they’ll tell me they know someone they can pay $95 for an hour session. I used to tell them “If you want you can do that, and then when you’re not getting the results you paid for then you can come back to me.”

The new way I respond to price objections are with “redefine patterns”. Which is basically “I agree that you think X and would like to add that the issue isn’t X, the issue is Y which means Z”

“I agree that you think $150 is a lot of money to quit smoking and would like to add that the issue isn’t the price. The issue is you haven’t thought about the long term costs of not smoking which means you can book a session with me and become a non smoker for good.”

Great video,

    Gemma W.

    Love it! I’m a fan of hypnotherapy btw.


I get a little sarcastic sometimes when its a real cheap client – When a client reacts like Oh my goddness after I tell them a price – I say yeah – I know I am really cheap – I get that allot.

On another note I use this sometimes… Yes I know I am not inexpensive but I used to be and I wasn’t making it, my Accountant said if your going to make it in this a business you have to charge more if you don’t make it a hobby! I love what I do and want to keep doing it, so thats why I charge what I do.

JoeHage | #MedDevice (@MedicalMarcom)


My new contact form: http://www.medicalmarcom.com/contact/

Thanks, Derek.

    Debi Davis

    Wow, between Derek’s great advice and your superb application of it, I’m heading over to my own site to fix things up a bit.

    P.s. – I’m finding that Derek has attracted a following of quality contributors. I’m spending as much time reading comments as I am watching his videos and reading his blogs and e-mails!

    April Smith

    Hello from the PNW! Great new contact page….


      Thanks, April! 🙂


I LOVE your script. It’s awesome! I’m wondering how you would suggest adapting this script to a slightly different situation. I’m a portrait photographer, and the way pricing often works in the portrait photography world is that we’re kind of working on spec. I charge a “session fee” up front, but that session fee doesn’t cover my costs/time unless they also buy a certain amount of product afterwards (i.e. prints, wall portraits, an album, etc.). If they don’t buy enough product, then I don’t cover the costs of my time. If they buy a lot of product, they more than cover my target, and it’s like receiving a bonus for great performance. Of course, on average, it has to work out so that I cover my costs. It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally, I will have a client who books the session, knowing the costs of the products, but then when they come in to see the images and place their order, they then want to haggle on the product cost. There’s only so much I can say about doing a poor job by rushing (except on the final retouching/print preparation end), because I already invested all the time I needed to in creating the portraits and in doing some level of post-production and retouching before they even came in to see their images and place their order. I’d love to hear how you would address haggling in this situation when you already spent significant time on the job. Thank you!

    Katharine Trauger

    Just a thought, Irene,
    My daughter is a portrait artist (pen and paint) and she charges for every change. Every. How about you save the unretouched pnotos and if they haggle, then say, “Well, I can let you have THESE for that price, but if you want all the extra work I put into the THIS set, I’ll have to stick to my price.” Maybe they could see what you are worth, then?

GaLuWi, Inc

I am so glad you did this video and script. This is a big issue our graphic designer is constantly running into. I gave him my advise, it was the same as yours, but you have a video and a script. Your advise is right on the money! You are Wise beyond your years.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Steve Freeman

Derek, another great video post.

I sold real estate for 20 years. I would always get “Are you willing to negotiate your fee”.. It got to the point that it became comical. Once I decided I could not work for anything but full fee my answer was “sure, my fee starts and 6% (full fee) and goes up from there. Where do you want to start”? I never had anyone pay more than full fee, but they all paid full fee.


    Love this approach. When the potential client says “are you willing to negotiate?” I would respond, “Sure, my rate starts at X.”

    Overall, on some occasions I may reduce the rate especially for a small business or non-profit I believe in. Most of the time I stand firm because they need our services expertise. they can’t do it themselves and so they have to pay for services that would be rendered.

    But once any potential client starts nitpicking each and every scope of project cost, (this happens rarely) I later send them an email telling them that “I wish you the best in your business endeavors. That I think that another consultant would be a better fit.”

    another turn down approach I use is that “we are too busy to take on another client. Feel free to contact us several months from now if you still need branding assistance.”

    A price haggler is a big red flag, likely high maintenance, a never happy potential headache. We don’t waste time with those types who insult our value.

    My other gripe is when a potential client tries to extract specific how-to answers, to get you to teach them or their staff how to do your job, so arrogant that they mistakenly think they can do the work themselves and use you – with the plan to cut you out of pay completely after you have educated everyone how to do things.

    Another example. one client that I turned down had the gall to ask, so he wouldn’t have to pay us for photography, if I would instruct his photographer on how to do the shots I recommend. The same person expected me to educate his so called web designer on how to SEO optimize the website. A bad fit all together. I saw the red flags and listened to the sirens and declined the business.

    Thank you for the article. http://www.sternprmarketing.com

Kamila Gornia

Again, amazing advice, Derek. I get hagglers ALL The time as a freelance photographer. People think that I don’t spend time after the actual shooting to edit the images and more. People seem to think that the only time that is put into the photography job is just the time that I’m there for. And they say “Oh I don’t need anything fancy, just shoot and you can give me the pictures as they are” but they don’t realize that is NOT how I work and that will not portray my best work the way it should.

I’ve always struggled with finding ways to tell the prospective clients that I am unable to work with a lower price in a professional way. Yes, I’ve been professional each time but I LOVE the way you presented this and that it still keeps the door open for potential working together on different terms.

Thanks a ton!


Tony Jay

Hey Derek,

I recently had a negotiation with an agency where I was asking for an increase in rate. They said that they’d check with finance.I heard nothing back until the contract arrived with the old rate. I got back in touch and went up the management chain to speak to the person who really controlled the money and from there the rate increase was approved on the spot.

That’s my tip, make sure you’re speaking to the right people.




Hi Derek. Great video!

One adjustment request:

“But as you know I’ve only got so much time in a day. And for me to make the price you’re offering work, I’d have to rush the job.”

That may work for a price quote for a job. But for an hourly rate (like for consulting), it doesn’t make much sense. “How come you/he charges so much per hour?!” An hour is an hour no matter how you rush it. I can think of something to say to “defend” an hourly rate, but I was wondering what your best script would be.

Thanks again!

    Mary Planding


    Pick up “Implementing Value-Based Pricing” by Ron Baker (see my comments earlier), or “Value-based Pricing” by Alan Weiss. They offer practical suggestions about how to avoid/handle these situations. BTW – Alan Weiss is arguably the highest-paid business / management consultant in the world. Y


Good stuff here.

The main keys are to never take it personal and to always know your worth.

Here’s how I shut a haggler down: investing in one’s own business is no different from the investment made to attend college. Both aren’t cheap, but they are highly beneficial. Even on the job, one expects to be paid their worth in years experience & knowledge obtained. I then wish them well & bid a hasty adieu.

In short: “Those who matter don’t mind. Those who mind don’t matter.” ~ Theodor Geisel, b.k.a. Dr. Seuss


    I like this reply when a potential client gets sticker shock on the project costs. Or, for monthly maintenance plans, I compare it to paying your utility bill or cable and internet.

Judy Janzen

I really enjoyed the positive direction you take for letting the potential client know that you are a professional and you also will not come across as desperate. I will re-write some of this script to suit my industry. Thanks for the input.

Jackie Bledsoe, Jr.

Great post! I recently had a “haggling success” for my freelance writing. It wasn’t difficult although I initially agonized over it prior to beginning to negotiate. Thanks for sharing, Derek!

Dawn B. Dwyer

Hey Derek, good topic. It has a lot to do with knowing your own VALUE. I have competed against pricing that was 29% lower than mine and they opted to work with me, usually 99.7% of the time. One example: I was selling a property for a client and my commission was 7% vs 5%. In this example it was showing them that they were hiring the WORST negotiator in Real Estate to negotiate the most expensive thing they will probably sell in their life as they can’t even keep their own commission. Dah! In this particular case my client later informed me that I sold their home for more than the other Realtor was even going to list it for (this is not always the case but we always net more for the Seller/Buyers at closing). So the Social Trigger lesson about Fear of loss paying the higher commission kicks in vs the Reality of Netting more money having a skilled negotiator. I always acknowledge the fact that they can get the job done for less but it will not be the same work. And then show them the value of working with me ie how they will have a larger check at closing when the home sells.


Yes, this is unpopular.. but he said it… haggling is part of negotiating. If I meet someone who is not willing to negotiate then I have no desire to enter into a contract with them. It tells me it is their way or the high way… even Derek Halpern said it, haggling is part of negotiating. So if someone doesn’t care for haggling, they don’t care to negotiate. So, I highly value people willing to negotiate for the prices that the person can afford.

    Gemma W.

    Yeah, in my case that would mean dropping the “nice-to-have” features or making the project smaller/shorter for a smaller budget. 😉 Like you said, haggling is a part of negotiation. It’s a 2-way street.

Neil Licht, ndlicht


Clara Rose

What I find more than the hagglers… is the sympathy card. People want a good deal because they are a small business, or a not for profit, or they have not budgeted for it.

I am going to try your script and add a few changes to my contact form.

Thanks for the great info as always.


As a consultant I often get asked about cost. I use something I learned from Sandler training. If a prospect says that the rate is too high, I say that it is a shame that we can’t work together and start to pack up (this is not a trick, if they can’t pay my rates then I really would walk away), but I stop in the middle and ask them, “Before I go, can I ask, given that my other clients are pay what I am asking you, why do you think they are happy to do that?” Then wait. The prospect will always come up with something. For example, “Because the benefits delivered are greater than the cost?” I reply, “That’s right,” to whatever they say and we are back to discussing their problem. This is great because it is not a trick (I really am leaving) but the question causes THEM to sell me to themselves and off we go.


    If a potential client really does not have the budget or does not want to spend the full price for services, I might give them a cheaper solution that doesn’t even involve our firm.

    “So, you want the video production for $1000? Well, the going rate is X for the labor intensive work you want.” I might tell them with kindess that “one option is to consider calling a local university and hire a college student.”

    First, you are providing valuable advice and it also shows that you’re not going to devalue your services and drastically undercut the acual time it takes to complete the job right. An actual full paying customer is where we focus our energies. Consultants have bills to pay, too.

    Mary Planding

    Perfect Rob! Love it! Love Sandler training – smart stuff because it works just as you described. You force them to reconsider what they really value and it takes price off the table, and puts the emphasis on results. Well done and thank you!


As I was taking notes, and the *AH-HA* moment for me happened with the advice you gave on the about page! Thank you for giving me the starting script to rewrite it! http://modernglamourphotography.com/about/ I’m also writing an automatic email “script” (non-coding) with the letter about serving customers and not being able to serve at lower price points! I’m very excited about this because it means that I can stop feeling guilty about turning customers away, even those who are my friends! It is also a HUGE stress reliever!

Paul Martinez

As a new startup focused on creative services, this is invaluable advice that I WILL use this week in fact. A author friend of mine called yesterday asking for an upgrade to his website. We try and make great websites for reasonable prices, but there’s a good chance he won’t be able to afford the price of a premium results-driven website that he really needs. Using your tactics I’ll be able to comfortably ask for what the website is worth, and if he tries to haggle, I’ll know exactly what to do.

Thanks Derek, please keep up the great work!


Thanks Derek!, I think this tips are really good and I know it will work for us once we start applying them.

I would also add one extra trip:

“Belief you are worth what you are asking for”

I think if you and I don’t believe we are worth the price we are asking then we might ended up lowering the rate OR feeling bad or insecure when we use the tips you have given us.

Best off all and thanks again,



Good info to have in a world where people think that the customer is always right.

Jacquelyn Lynn

Great video — I’ll be sharing it on my Facebook feed, and I added a version of your contact message to my contact page.

As a freelance writer, I often get people who want to negotiate, in part because they don’t appreciate the value of what I do, but also because they often just don’t have the money. I wrote a blog on how NOT to negotiate with a freelance writer: http://www.jacquelynlynn.com/ghostwriter-ghostwriting/how-not-to-negotiate-with-a-writer/

    Gemma W.

    The thing these people need to realise is that if they don’t have the budget, it isn’t fair on the freelancer to request a service they clearly cannot afford, at the freelancer’s expense.


I have been getting screwed by freelance clients! My buddy is helping me develop a better pricing structure (also based on your other video about offering a really high priced package so people can knock it lower to what I want them to pay). Definitely going to use these tips to avoid hagglers.

AstroHerbalist Lisa Allen

Derek, that is just BRILLIANT advice!! When I first began professional astrology/intuitive readings, there were people who often tried to get FREE readings by “inquiring” about “what I do.” I only went so far to let them know I am for real, then I switched into an example of how I helped other clients solve their problems with love, money and health. I then explained that I could understand their skepticism (heck, I am a skeptic!), but offered references if they need those to increase their comfort level, one of which is a client who implemented my services as he found them more beneficial and faster than counseling (and because it was faster, it became more economical for him). This showed I am worth it! I notice that people who do not pay for these type of services do not value the advice they receive at all, which is really invalidating. THANK YOU Derek!!


Love this Derek!

I’m a health coach and recently I came across a similar situation. A lady really wanted to work with me but my rates were outside her budget. I absolutely didn’t want to lower my prices but I also didn’t want to lose her as a client. So I offered her extended email and phone support to sweeten it. It worked! I think it’s fascinating how I was able to keep my rates the same and by offering a little extra something that made her feel taken care of (but at little cost to me) she went for it.

Of course there are others that no matter how you work with them they’re not satisfied. I think that’s the difference between a lead who is actually interested in your services as opposed to someone just wasting your time. Your solutions here cut through that nonsense!

Also, I am going to implement your blurb on the my contact page asap! I need a “screening method” of some sort. ha!

Thanks again!


My business is computer consulting, service and repair. I often get asked to provide personal training at the home of the client. It seems to me the older the client is, the less likely they want to pay my hourly rate. I don’t want to change my rate for consulting vs. training. My rate is my rate and they get my expertise with it. How do I offer to do something else for them for the price they want to pay?

    Michael R. Murphy

    I don’t know that I’d completely agree with peachfront’s generalizations of older people. But Erin has a good point. If you’re doing some training already, it may make sense to record or document that in some fashion and productize it. If someone wants to haggle with you, you can simply refer them to your lower-priced training material. The benefit, as Erin pointed out, is that you put this material together once and sell it many, many times.


    Can you offer video tutorials, or a manual that would be (at least in part) able to be re-used for other clients? So maybe they only get an hour of customized training and then a PDF of all the basics?


      Older people who remember prices from decades past can’t really use manuals or video tutorials. The inflexible brain stuck on 1982’s idea of expensive isn’t really able to benefit from reading a PDF either. I think it’s OK to accept that some business isn’t worth chasing. There are tons of video tutorials online for free. The true cheapskate has already tried and failed to understand them long before they break down and call in a consultant. So I think you can pretty much tell them to take it or leave it. And get a deposit before you start the work.

Nic Natarella

Already updated my contact page.

Great suggestions – but we all know that coming from Derek.

Thanks again!

Mary Planding


Nice video and has some good thoughts that could work better for some people than what they’re currently doing. But I’d like to offer an alternative point of view for you to consider:

a) Customers don’t care about how much (or little) time it takes for you to do something. They want what they want and they DO NOT care about your costs, your pain, your problems. They expect you to solve them and not whine about it to them.

b) When using a time for money (billable hours) formula, we continue to perpetuate a no-win proposition. Why, as you gain expertise, should you make less because you can do something faster? The answer is to increase your hourly rate. But this is anathema to a customer, who will see that he makes less per hour than you do (not a good thing). Customers also don’t want to be billed by the hour either, because then it forces them to compromise on what they want, which makes them unhappy. Either way you look at it, billable hours is lose-lose.

c) Where you both come together is on value. The customer wants to maximize the value they receive and you want to maximize the value you give. Bingo. Win-Win. If the customer perceives your work to be of great value to her, it is from that place that you determine what to charge. Back into your costs instead of using your costs to decide what to charge.

This is the premise behind VALUE-BASED PRICING. And the guru behind it, the man whose mission in life is to abolish and stamp out billable hours is Ron Baker, the founder of VeraSage Institute and author of so many danged books on this topic you’ll go on an orgy of consumption. My favorite is Implementing Value Based Pricing. I highly recommend you check it out. Ron’s a great guy and I think he’d make a wonderful guest for your podcast. I’d be happy to introduce you.

WARNING: He will BLOW YOUR MIND. Guaranteed.


    I didn’t feel like Derek was saying you had to charge based per hour? I know his script focused on time, but still think the overall message would work even if you price based on value.

    I charge a mix of value-based pricing and hourly. It depends a bit on what it is I’m doing. I still say that I only work with X amount of clients each month in order to provide great service. I don’t think that means that I’m only charging hourly–it means that my focus isn’t divided between too many clients.

    I definitely think value-based pricing is ideal, though many people do charge hourly. I just need to tweak Derek’s script a bit to be more applicable to me/my business. =]

      Mary Planding

      I agree completely that Derek wasn’t saying to charge per hour. I’m simply saying that be even talking about time as it relates to haggling over pricing implies that we price our services based on our time spent instead of pricing our services based on the value the customer receives.

      It seems like we need to do our best to eliminate connecting time with money in our languaging. As Ron Baker says, we’ve done a great job over many centuries in training our customers to expect to place a value on our time instead of valuing the results we deliver. Consequently, we leave lots of money on the table and devalue ourselves unnecessarily.

      Ron offers a wonderful example in his book, about water. If you’re stuck in the middle of the desert, and someone offers you a bottle of water, how much is that bottle of water worth to you? Your life, right?

      If you’re at home washing the dishes and someone offers you a bottle of water, what’s it value to you? Not much, eh?

      If your basement is flooded, now the water has a negative value to you because you’ve got to pay/work to get rid of it so it doesn’t damage your home.

      The difference among these three scenarios is the context. So even if something is only going to take you an hour, to your customer, that may be priceless because they don’t have the time/skills to do it themselves and they need it NOW. In this context, you’re possibly saving their career, do you really think they’ll quibble about your price? What you do for them is invaluable in that moment, in that context.

      So next time you have the opportunity, think about the context of your customer’s need/want/pain and what value you bring to the table. 🙂

        Jason Miller

        Great comments. Struggling with how to articulate this to prospective clients right now.


I have lots of stories, but one happened while I was on vacation in July. My colleague and I talked about the project and decided on a price over the phone. The potential client haggled her three times, then turned to me and did the same thing. I held firm. AND IT FELT GREAT.

We didn’t get that contract but it doesn’t matter. When there’s price haggling at the start, it usually indicates a high maintenance client. I’m happy to leave room for people who really appreciate the value we deliver.


Brilliant timing. I run an accounting firm and have just finished a meeting with a prospect where I told her I could save her at least £6,000 of tax. My fee for this and doing all of the annual accounting and tax work was £2,000. To be hit back with…….

“Is that your best price? XYZ Accountants round the corner will do it for less”

Wish I had seen this video before the meeting! Thanks as always for the great advice.

William Williams

I have often found that if you scale back the job that you are able to do and offer it at a lower price, the client will later request additional services and eventually you’ll end up doing the original amount of work at the original price. It’s just spread out over time. And as the they work with you and trust you, they learn to value your services.


This is the second video I’ve seen now of yours and, WOW, I’m impressed. I feel like you really honor my time but:

1. Giving valuable content without taking all day to do it
2. Video is engaging, you take the time to create something that’s enjoyable to watch

I’m actually going to share this with my outsourcing team. I know I’m not the only client they serve so this will be a great way for me to add value to our relationship.

Also, have you done anything with Facebook marketing? I tried to find a search function on your site and didn’t see anything… 🙂

Abbie Major

Estheticians painfully struggle with in this area. Constantly working from a place of sacrifice and not service. Many feel they don’t even charge their worth in the first place….

Chris Aitken

Thanks Derek for the helpful script and tips, as always.

I’ve found it very effective to have the discussion with the potential client about what value (i.e., scope of work) they don’t want delivered to enable me to get down to the price that they’re offering.

Clients always love reducing price but rarely do they want to reduce the scope or value being delivered. Sometimes clients ask for extraneous things done that they don’t, in reality, need. Focusing on eliminating those less important elements can really help make a pricing discussion more productive.

The positive part of the discussion comes up when I can help a potential client get the end result they’re looking for at a price they’re happy with and I get paid the rates I’m looking for and worth for the effort spent.


I love your videos. They are packed with great content.

I wonder if you could copy your video’s points and scripts within the post so we can refer to it and look at it longer. The video goes by quick.


Neil Licht, ndlicht

I never drop my prices. Nor do the clients I have do that because I tell them not to. Here’s the logic I and they use when asked to drop the price.

“As experienced professionals, we price according to each job, what needs to be accomplished for our client in activity, expected results and the actual steps, research and time it takes to do the job so it gets the results you want. If we did not give you our best and fairest job based price as firm immediately on the first pass but instead dropped it because you asked us to, you’d think we might have even gone lower or that we tried to rip you off on the first price. That’s why we state a genuine, job based fair, accurate but firm price and tell you that upfront.”

I liked your approach and the open opportunity you offer to discuss a less costly service that might be better for the prospect given their budget.

In my own sales approach and in what I teach my clients, we also present price, not as a cost, but as how much money/tangible usable time we are going to do puts back into the treasury v how they have been doing it before. The math shows the savings and the close is as simple as “To realize this clear savings do you want to start yesterday or the day before ?” Yup, I use that close, it gets laughs but I also get the deal closed.

Thanks for your ideas and the very real/usable advice that you consistently offer. Neil Licht, Founder/Chief Client Consultant, Managing Change Practice.

Kanweienea Kreations

Very helpful and informative. Thank you!


I’ve been lucky enough to not be haggled too much in my career. The one that really stands out was a referral from another client. I could tell immediately he was going to be a ‘client from hell.’

When discussing his project and budget, he tells me he doesn’t believe in budgets. Sometimes he has NO budget. Sometimes a $50 budget (sirens and red flags going off at this point).

So I quote him my price and he tries to haggle me. Throwing insults. How do I run a business? How can I expect to get any work charging so much, etc etc.

I kept it cool, and basically asked him how much he charged for one of his training sessions ( he was an online/social media guru-type with online and in-class training)

That shut him up real quick. He didn’t respond, and I lost a potential client. HA!

Your three main tips are things I’m already doing, but your script for the contact page and rejection email were spot-on.

It’s sometimes hard to realize we don’t have to take a gig. Sometimes saying no leads to much better things. I think experience helps with this. After 13+ years doing this, I immediately can get a feeling or sense who the crap client is.

Thanks all the great content!

Steven Davis

Slam dunk. Thank you! This is going right into 2 projects.

Neil Licht, ndlicht

I never drop my prices. Nor do the clients I have do that because I tell them not to. Here’s the logic I and they use when asked to drop the price.

“As experiences professionals, we price according to each job and the actual steps, research and time it takes to do the job so it gets the results that you want. If we did not give you our best and fairest job based price as firm immediately on the first pass but instead dropped it because you asked us to, you’d think we might have even gone lower or that we tried to rip you off on the first price. That’s why we state a genuine, job based fair, accurate but firm price and tell you that upfront.”

I liked your approach and the open opportunity you offer to discuss a less costly service that might be better for the prospect given their budget.

In my own sales approach and in what I teach my clients, we also present price, not as a cost, but as how much money/tangible usable time we are going to do puts back into the treasury v how they have been doing it before. The math shows the savings and the close is as simple as “To realize this clear savings do you want to start yesterday or the day before ?” Yup, I use that close, it gets laughs but I also get the deal closed.

Thanks for your ideas and the very real/usable advice that you consistently offer. Neil Licht, Founder/Chief Client Consultant, Managing Change Practice.

J.A. Gamache

Thanks Derek. Useful information that I’ll use. For sure! Great idea to provide us with a script.

Darren MacDonald

Hey Derek,

As always, love your stuff. Great advice and I will try to implement on my site.



Thanks so much! This is a great information! Sharing on my Facebook wall, for my freelancer friends, right now.
I feel bad when my friends are pretty much taken advantage of because they won’t stick to their prices and let customers talk them into lowering their prices. Maybe this will help them get paid what they are worth!
Thanks again!

Wilton Blake

Tip #2 is priceless. I spend lots of time on the phone with and responding to emails from potential clients who I can tell do not want to pay my rates. I don’t mind helping them out with information and suggestions. But it takes lots of time to do that. I will definitely update my contact form.

Ryan - Comeback Academy

Great script Derek. Amazing the power of a good qualifying or sales script.

Not really a script but I ran across this web designer’s site who I thought did a good job or qualifying.



I’ve seen that most clients determine value by looking at the pricing.

I’ve also seen that clients who pay me higher rates complain less and see the value of my work.

Dave Glick

Hey Derek,

Great stuff! So here is story you could probably relate to:

I had a lady yesterday that brought her computer to me. She didn’t necessarily ask me to lower my rates but did ask if I would charge her actual time instead (by the minute) instead of the industry standard 15 minute increments because she is on a tight budget.

I explained that 15 minute increments were the industry standard (like we are going to compute, pardon the pun, the exact rate to the minute for every repair) but I also gave in to her request because I tend to be very empathetic. I know that is bad because I am also in business and business IS business.

I did go on to tell her that I am a professional and that I have bills to pay just like she does, and that this would be the only time I could do the ‘by the minute’ thing. I also told her that in return for the favor that I requested she leave an online review for me, which she promised to do.

Of course Murphy’s law struck again and her computer ended up to be more of a problem child than it looked on the surface and I ended up spending much more time on it than originally planned, and of course I ended up giving her a huge cut what would have been a much higher bill. It always seems like the times the customer wants to haggle or says how much of a budget they are on are the ones that the projects end up causing more grief than they are worth.

So, as you can tell, I certainly felt that this video was very helpful – I just need to remember the concept and put it in practice. Thanks Derek!


    Jason Miller

    Did you get the promised review?

Andy Nathan


Love your tips as always!

I have a number of people who haggle me for price discounts. I have a number of clients who asked me to do business at half the price. I ask them if I can do half the work, and if they want 25% of the results, if any from my work.

When I first started, I accepted a number of bargain clients to get started. I learned that the bargain clients never stayed, and the only ones who succeeded with me were the ones who used my services at full price with my complete campaign.

Shared this on my Twitter account, because I probably know about 70,000 people who deal with hagglers in their business. Liked it as well.



Another great video Derek. So simple and very easy to implement.
I’ve had experience with clients that seem to always cut my price by half and want the project done in half the time as well. The next time I get such a request, I’ll throw in your script (reworded of course) and I’m sure it will work wonders by either: a. making them see the value I put in my work and be willing to pay the price I’m asking; or b. shoo them away and leave my precious time to be spent working with a better client or a more worthwhile project.

Thanks Derek.


Great advice, Derek!

Seems like someone is always trying to haggle my prices. I get a lot of, “I’m a small business and I can’t afford it right now!”

I used to feel really bad, and would lower my prices, but then I realized that I am also a small business, and I have bills to pay too!

I always try to let clients know that investing in a great web design isn’t just an expense, it really is an investment and will pay off!

In the case of web design, it’s always possible to get a great website and then add “fancy” elements later if budget is really an issue. Though if anyone wants to go this route, it’s VERY important you let the designer know ahead of time that you’ll be wanting to add a slider or ecommerce or whatever so that they can develop the site to easily accommodate these add-ons in the future (because completely overhauling the website is going to cost a pretty penny if you don’t plan in advance).


    One of the interesting things/challenges about a good or a bad design is that the site owner rarely ever hears about it. Your friends might tell you that your design is beautiful but prospective customers will never tell you that they balked on hiring you because your site’s design was bad (or didn’t seem trustworthy or was broken in some places). Since owners never hear that, they don’t know about it as a problem and thus don’t value good design as a service.


      So true! I always think “outdated” looking sites seem untrustworthy because I feel like if they’re not keeping up with their website, other things might be falling through the cracks as well!

      The other problem is BEAUTIFUL websites that are impossible to navigate because they’re over-designed and you can’t find anything!

      I think keeping it simple is the best route! It lets visitors find what they want, it helps you sell your products/services, and it doesn’t look outdated as quickly as a site that’s designed around current trends!

        Gemma W.

        It’s entirely possible to have a beautiful website that is also easy to use/navigate. I suspect web designers who build beautiful but over-designed websites are too focussed on the eye candy instead of putting themselves in the end-user’s shoes. It’s a sign of inexperience and/or ignorance.


        Great video on prevention of haggling. I to think a lot of websites are over done and hard to navigate.
        I am just getting started in building and teaching local online, marketing taking local businesses online.

Angie M Jordan

Great tips. Love that script! Feel like I need to write this down and hang above my desk.

I am asked a lot to change my price and I’m too nice and get talked down(slowly working on changing that) bc I really really want to help people. I love the idea of offering them something else for that price. That way I can still be helpful without compromising my work, accepting less than what I’m worth, or haggling prices!

Jamie Ferro

Good stuff Derek,

Refusing to haggle has actually helped me reduce the number of people who even try to haggle. I like your suggestion for redirecting the prospect to a different scope of work vs. simply closing the door.

Thanks. And keep it coming.

Glenda Pagan

I’m practicing that walk away right now! lol I think this is the hardest part for any business owner who isn’t terrified of losing a client? You are not and the rest of us should learn how to. Thanks for the great tips!

Breanne Dyck

I wish people would try to haggle – more often than not, they just scream and run away, claiming “it’s too expensive!”

(Well, I imagine them screaming and running. It makes me laugh.)

But it’s forced me to change the way I approach clients, from the get go.

First, I don’t just quote based on abstract criteria. I force them to actually think about their project, to take a strategic approach, and to understand that working with me doesn’t just mean slapping something together for cheap. It helps. The ones that can’t or won’t do it get screened out quickly.

Second, I always present my offers in terms of value. I don’t talk about the ‘cost’ of the project, I talk about the ‘investment’ they’re making in their business. Yeah, it may cost 5 grand. But when the client themselves told me that they expect this project to bring in 50 grand worth of new revenue in the next 2 years? That’s a 10X ROI – and pointing that out (nicely) usually gets the point across.

But what I’ve been missing has been that script for saying ‘no’, without closing the door entirely, when they still aren’t willing to invest. Great way to redirect, and something I’ll definitely be using down the line.

    Derek Halpern

    If they scream it’s too expensive and run away, then they’re not your ideal customer.

      Breanne Dyck

      Exactly. That’s why I’ve really been working hard to prequalify more carefully… it’s the little things, but SO important. I learned years ago that it’s definitely not worth it to work with non-ideal clients. For me, or for them. They’re better off with someone that is an ideal service provider for them, and I’m better off with clients that are ideal for me.

        Michael R. Murphy

        If you’re not already, using a questionnaire is a great way to help prequalify people. I usually ask some pretty specific questions about prospective clients’ businesses and goals that require some thought and fairly lengthly responses. If they can’t be bothered to think about their goals for a project (or provide one or two word answers) then I know I’m probably not going to be able to get them the results they want and I pass.

          Breanne Dyck

          Yep – that’s one of a handful of ways I’ve improved my pre-qualification process. It’s helped, but there is always room to get better – constant, consistent improvement!


From time to time I do consulting and I generally itemize my deliverables so the client knows what they’re getting. If someone tries to haggle with me on price, I point to the list and ask which ones they can do without. I understand that sometimes my rate may not agree with their budget and we may only be able to do a subset of the entire list of deliverables, so we make the discussion about that.

Another way I’ve tackled this issue is working out a schedule. If I know that in 3 months I will have some free time, I’m often willing to be flexible on price if they sign a contract, pay now, and get the deliverables later (thus filling up my pipeline of work). In return for establishing work sometime in the future, I give them a break on the price. I think that’s a fair trade.

    Meg Sylvia

    I like these approaches! I think that’s a great idea to point out to a client that they have an option to pay less, but it will mean sacrificing deliverables.


      And you can spread things out – no need to buy everything all at once!


I liked how you address the lower price point so that you can still grab those clients that you are in effect “turning away” for your more expensive product. I’ve done the same in my own business and this article confirms I’m on the right track. Thanks as always for the great value of information!

Robin Owen

Great advice Derek.


Awesome tips Derek!! Very current, I experienced such situation recently and was very happy to say NO 🙂

Michael Spencer

Great suggestions Derek.

I like the part where you suggest offering to do something “at that price point”. I’d never considered that you don’t have to take the job or not take the job, but rather you can take their price, change the job and you’re all happy.

Great ideas.


    Thanks for the video Derek.
    I’m in the process of revamping my website, going live next week, and added your suggestion to my contact page. I’ll let you know how it works.
    I too use the “at that price point” but a little differently. I always break my proposal down into several parts and then if someone wants to haggle, I tell them they will not get part XXX, which would be a real pity. They can then choose whether or not to pay for that part of the work, but I always get the full price for what I do this way.

    Derek Halpern

    If you use it, do stop by and let me know.


Since publishing our rates on our website this problem has disappeared – it’s a great filter. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but it’s been great for us!

    Asher Elran

    We publish our rates (a minimum starting budget) as well on our site, and that pretty much eliminated the need to talk to someone who is looking for just a rock bottom price and cares much less about anything else.

    Derek Halpern

    Funny how that works right? It begins to weed out the people who aren’t serious.


    It’s hard for people to publish rates online, there’s always the fear that you’re losing out on business. It’s great that it’s worked well for you!

      Derek Halpern

      Why do you think publishing rates will make you LOSE business?


        Someone mentioned that putting prices online would act like a filter. I do see this point. But on the other hand, yes it may deter others of actually contacting and talking to you.
        Personally I want to have the choice of making an offer and then negotiate case by case as I do have a margin.
        It remains a difficult question that seems not to have a standard answer at hand.


        If you’re unable to explain the value you bring on the page (a lot of people are better in person or on the phone than writing copy), publishing your rate may turn people off. If you can get them on the phone, you can explain the value you bring to justify the price. It’s a double edged sword too because the clients who can’t afford your rate, regardless of value, will consume your time.


      I used to keep my rates private, and then started putting them on my site. It has worked well for a long time, but we have some services that just have to be quoted case by case. For those, I ask people to contact us. The blend seems to be working well; people can get a sense of our pricing based on our flat rate services, and it means they’re usually not shocked when I give them a custom quote.

      Honestly though, my prices are too low anyway. Get a great business plan while it’s still cheap!


        Yes, but when I see “ask for a quotation” on a website, I always think that they’re not telling the price because it would be so high that it would scare me. And I bet I’m not the only one.

        Well, I also bet that sometimes that’s simply the truth.
        But obviously, this theory doesn’t always apply.

        When writing a pricing page which includes a “custom price” option, is there -in your opinion- a way to clarify that simply, some works require custom prices, without sounding strange, or stupid?

          John Garvens

          On my website, I spell out my sales process completely. While I don’t list prices, I used several techniques that Derek mentioned in the video.

          Basically, I outline a six-step sales cycle: Qualification, Discovery, Presentation, Evaluation, Negotiation and Execution. In each step, I clearly explain the reason for each step.

          While you don’t want to it a total pain in the ass, putting up a few barriers (like high prices, qualification processes, etc.) goes a long way toward improving the quality of your leads. What good is it to have 5,000 leads if you know that only 10 of them are worth a damn?

          Hell, Ramit Sethi TELLS people to unsubscribe from his content if they don’t like it. Why? Because it improves the quality of his email list.

          Personally, I’d rather get a few volcano-lava HOT leads than a million ice-cold leads. What are your thoughts, Derek?

          Derek Halpern

          It’s all about setting expectations.


          I always list “base” prices. So for example, I know I’m not going to make any kind of website for under a certain amount. So that’s my base price. Then depending on what people add on it could be a LOT more, but that at least gives them a place to start.

          Maybe something similar would work for you?


          Yeah, I think it depends on the type of work… though I know what you mean about feeling like it’s expensive. “Market Price” on a menu rarely means “inexpensive” when something is in season. 🙂

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