How Do You Handle Client Discount Requests?

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Marginal gains on fees can make a major difference to the bottom line, and making those types of gains on fee negotiations should be an important aspect of any accounting professional’s strategy in today’s highly competitive marketplace.

But how often does a client ask you for a discount on fees, and how do you handle it when they do?

The Discount Request

Let’s imagine a typical situation: You have worked hard on a proposal that you are now presenting to a client. You patiently run through all the details. Dialogue is constructive, and your expectations for winning the business are high.

But when you finally present your fees, the client sighs a little and says, “I like your proposal but ... ”

  • “ ... this is all I’ve got.”
  • “ ... it is more than we had anticipated.”
  • “ ... the fees seem disproportionate to the actual service provided.”
  • “ ... I’m not sure we are willing to commit to such a significant financial investment – is it possible to reduce cost?”

In whatever language it is raised, the request for a discount is one of the most effective tactics available to a buyer (of services, or otherwise). There’s nothing to lose and potentially significant gains.

In this example, “I like your proposal” works because it gets you as the seller excited that you may actually win the business. Meanwhile, the other half of the sentence, “but this is all I’ve got” sends a clear, potentially critical question about fees.

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About Tom Fielder

Tom Fielder

Tom Fielder is marketing manager at LDL, Leadership Development Ltd. LDL provides negotiation training for accounting professionals, as well as leadership, sales and communication training to firms across the professional services. Tom researches and writes for LDL about fresh approaches to training, with a particular focus on these specialist areas. To learn more about LDL visit


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Jul 28th 2017 17:05

No I do not offer discounts. The only thing I do is offer a small reduction in rates for all remote work done vs onsite which I rarely do anyway. This stops clients new or current from asking me for a face to fact meeting to go over something that # 1 can easily be done over the phone and # 2 would only take 20 minutes face to face but would mean an hour of driving each way and eat up 4 hours of my day. If clients start asking for discounts at the beginning then I know they aren't clients that I want to constantly deal with grumblings about their invoices. Do we ask a plumber for a discount? A car mechanic? A handyman? Our attorney? No we do not. Why people think they can bargain for accounting work is beyond my mindset.

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