Let them know what you can do for them. Make sure you do not overpromise and under deliver. Making a promise you can’t fulfill will surely damage your credibility and integrity and may damage the relationship. We also don’t want the client to feel belittled. Handle the request as an idea that you value, too. Try to do something reasonable that is related to the request. We know we can’t just arbitrarily drop the price. By planning in a little contingency in the pricing to start with, you can get creative and offer something small back. Perhaps pick up the cost of the appliance pulls on the refrigerator in the kitchen or offer an appliance panel at no charge. Your response might be: “I assure you our numbers are pretty tight on what we have designed and specified, but I can throw in those roll-out shelves we took out to save cost.” The clients want to feel like they are getting the best deal while getting the best value for their money. If we can cater to their need of being satisfied in “the negotiation,” we can ease our eventual response of “no” to their request for lower pricing.
Let them know what you wish you could do for them. You want to empathize with them and let them know it’s all right that they’ve made the request and that you care and are there to help them. Simply put, let them know you would like to give them more, but can’t, with good reason. “I understand and appreciate your need and want to save money, and I wish I could just lower the price and still give you the same level of quality in the products and services.”
Let them know what you can’t do. Now comes the no part. Directly, clearly and confidently let them know what you are unable to do. You’ve already let them know it was a request you’ve heard and appreciated and you’ve done your best to help. Spend as much time as the client needs to feel comfortable that you cannot do anything further. “Unfortunately, I have given you my best price and I am unable to come off anymore in cost.”
Let them know your reason. Finally, explain why you have to say no. Support your decision and let them know there is a clear reason why. Whenever possible, paint the picture of what benefits the client from your position. “The fact is, given the level of professionalism and detail in our drawings, the time I will spend on site coordinating with the architects/designers/construction professionals, and the superior quality of design, products and their installation, I would be doing you a disservice to lower our prices and compromise any of the services we provide that differentiates us from our competition.”
It is not an easy thing to say no. Be as positive as you can be and always be professional when having to tell a client no. Remember, the goal is to establish trust, maintain the relationship and close the sale. If handled properly, your clients will respect your position, reasoning and integrity.