Lowering the price is for amateurs

Would you ever go to a doctor and ask if he could lower his fees? How about your accountant? Your college or the school you’re sending your kids to? Starbucks? You’re a regular there, aren’t you?

If you’re in your right mind, you wouldn’t because no professional wants to do business with bargainers. Their time is too precious to justify the value and expertise they provide with their service. And yes, they’re better off servicing clients who understand the value they provide.

As a service professional myself, I often get asked if I could lower my fees or offer a discount. My response is the standard one — I’m sorry, I don’t offer discounts (I follow a tiered pricing model, which means a 6-session consult will cost less than a single session and the 12-session one would cost the least compared to all other options). I’m happy to offer a one-time pro-bono consult but that’s about it. And the moment I sense the (potential) client wants to try lowering the price, I simply excuse myself and redirect them to someone else. It’s not worth my time and effort to have a conversation with someone who’ve fixed on the price than realize the value they will receive.

We Indians love to bargain… almost everywhere! Shamelessly! And I’m pretty okay negotiating prices while buying stuff from the local market (which are mostly unregulated, as in, the articles don’t have a maximum retail price) but that’s about it. I don’t believe in bargaining while seeking professional services. Here’s why:

  1. I don’t want them to treat servicing my account/assignment/request as something they’re being paid less for; essentially that would put me behind the others who’ve paid the full price.
  2. They’re making a livelihood as well. Just like you. Sure, they’ve got lots of customers and may even be thriving… but so are you. How would you feel if your employer starts to bargain your salary or leaves or other privileges?

As a professional, I’m of the opinion that one should never encourage negotiations when it comes to pricing. If you’re new to the fold, things will be tough and lowering the price to attract a few new customers might feel like the logical thing to do but it’s not. Do it once and the market’s quick to label you as a low-cost provider. But if you don’t budge, things take a different turn. You may not get the business but you sure will get the admiration. And if you persist enough, you’ll get the business anyhow.

I guess that’s where my free or premium concept shines — create stuff for everyone to access it for free (forever) but save the best and charge a premium for it.

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