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.