Sometimes, you have to ask your prospective clients tough questions.

When you work in a retention industry like I do, the only thing worse than not landing an account is landing the account with margins so thin you’re basically working for free.

In today’s economy, we’re seeing the commoditization of almost everything. This is due to a number of factors that we don’t have time to get into. That said, the one way that you can prevent that from happening to you and your business is by offering great value through great service. In SALES101 you learn that when your buyer complains about price, you haven’t done a good job conveying your value. It’s true, and it’s fairly undeniable. There are, however, buyers who will attempt to haggle regardless of price or value, simply because they’re wired that way.

I run into this quite a bit in the field. Despite getting a proposal that’s going to save them a couple thousand dollars a year on their credit card processing, I get the occasional prospect that wants to haggle me down and squeeze my margins. Here’s where I drop the bomb that gets there attention. The question is as effective as a gut punch:

“Do you want me to regret bringing you on as a client?” Congratulations, they’re all ears now. Why? Because they recognize unequivocally that you’re a consultant, not an order-taker. When they know you’re okay walking away from a bad deal, there’s a paradigm shift in leverage. As I explain to prospective clients, “I’m a business owner. I’m in this to make a profit while offering a great service at a fair price. If I drop my price to what you’re asking, I’m going to undoubtedly regret bringing you on down the road. Do you want me to answer the phone ready to fix any issues you may be having, or would you rather I roll my eyes when I see your number on the caller ID because I know that I’m basically working for free? I don’t want to be tempted to deliver anything but the best when it comes to servicing your account, and I’m sure you can appreciate that.”

When you’re dealing with SMB owner/operators like I am, that resonates. They ALL have customers that they’ve conceded their price on who turned out to be a headache. Putting things in those terms gives them a new perspective. They don’t want to be the customer they hate dealing with.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how to keep your margins so you can scale your business.

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