Asking for a Deal

I’ve been working in software development for a few years, building anything from custom scripting to full-blown enterprise level applications. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a variety of people, and have managed to identify what I, at least, would consider my ideal client.

The work I do is not always easy, and rarely fast. Clients will often have a very clear picture of what it is they’re looking for, sometimes in the form of a sketch.

The worst clients are those who ought to know better, and still ask for a deal. They assume that because of the nature of our relationship, whether personal, social, or professional, that I would give them a deal. They get offended when I suggest that the price has been set according to the amount of work I know it will take, based on my prior experience.

The best clients are those who appreciate that I can do my job, and that my skills have value. They don’t mind paying for it, provided I can explain the basis for those fees.

It’s not that I don’t give deals – quite the opposite, I’m frequently undercutting my own time because I believe in the value of the client, whether it be their cause (for example, charities) or their business (knowing that a successful first project will lead to a more profitable second and third). A client who never asks for a deal, in fact, scares me because they may not actually appreciate what it is I do for them.

Especially in the world of small businesses, it is incredibly important to ensure that you do your best to get the biggest bang for your buck. While you need to weigh the value of your time against the potential dollars saved, failing to ask for deals is similar to throwing your money away – sooner or later, you will discover that you’ve been overpaying for services for years.

I’ve had several clients who, during the course of the work I’ve done for them, I’ve suggested that they change their hosting plan to one more in line with what they were doing with their site. In 2 cases, the savings in hosting fees more than covered my own fees in under 2 years. The clients did not realize it, but they were overpaying for a service and hadn’t bothered to find out.

However, when asking for a deal, the basis should not be because you’re somehow special – that’s for the person charging you to initiate. However, you should find out if there’s a way to make the service or product more affordable – maybe you don’t need quite that level of service, or that exact product. Could you get by with last year’s model?

If you start asking these questions, the person making the sale will often work with you – after all, you’ll be happier in the end if you get a product or service that suits your needs, at a price that makes you feel you got your money’s worth. But you need to respect that there is an intrinsic value tied to the various goods and services, and that to get a break on that, it needs to come from good will, not guilt.

After all, the provider needs to make a living too.