Don’t Be Undersold. How to Handle a Bargaining Client

Danielle Thompson

Founder @ Freelance Travel Network, Freelancer and World Traveller


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If you have been freelancing for any length of time, you’ll know that the client can, and sometimes will haggle over price.

And if you are new to the world of freelancing being thrown into a haggling situation can be a bit daunting.

On one hand, you don’t want to give in to their every need and feel crappy about your paycheck. But at exactly the same time, you do not want to lose the customer by pricing out yourself and being too rigid.

It’s something we — as freelancers — need to deal with occasionally, but it is really no big deal.

Understand Why the Client Haggles in the First Place

Because they like it, clients don’t haggle — there’s always an underlying reason. A motivating factor.

You need to first know what those reasons are before you can defend yourself from hagglers.

Reason #1: They’re Concerned about overpaying

It is fair, the client isn’t positive. Of so you’re being tested by them, they don’t need to get ripped. If you buckle under stress they’re seeing.

Reason #2: They’re just trying to save money

Ahhh, the classic “cheap-charlie” client. It doesn’t matter what your cost is, they will haggle.

Reason #3: They simply can’t afford you

They desperately need to work with you, although your price is out of the clients budget.

Weak vs Strong Objections and Why They Matter

When a customer challenges you, the key is to identify what that reason is. You will be able to defend yourself more effectively, as soon as you have this information.

How can you possibly know?

Well, it’s all in the objection.

When a client objects to your price, you need to study the exact words they used, the tone they used, the delay in their response, etc.

Let me give you some examples:


  • I was hoping to get it around $___
  • Is it possible you can do it for $___
  • We were looking to stay below $__

Weak objections indicate reasons #1 (worried about overpaying) or #2 (just trying to save money).


  • Sorry, but there’s no way I can exceed $___
  • That’s out of our budget, we can only do $___
  • The absolute highest we can do is $___

Strong objections indicate reasons #2 (just trying to save money) or #3 (they simply can’t afford you).

Defending Yourself Against Weak Objections

Weak objections are much easier to overcome.

By implementing the time-tested reframing techniques I’m about to show you, you’ll not only be able to defend yourself against weak objections but actually, prevent them from happening in the first place.


If a client is unsure about your price, the problem stems from not having a good comparison to work from. Price anchoring fixes that by giving them that comparison.

I’ve found one of the best ways to use this is when presenting your quote to the client. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  • “I’d normally quote $750, but I’m excited to work with you on this so I’m willing to do it for $600”
  • “My minimum is $750, but this project is fairly straightforward so I can do it for $600 this time”
  • “I’d usually quote $750, but I’m looking to add something like this to my portfolio, so I’d be happy to do it $600”

As you can see, it’s all about leveraging a positive in order to justify your price. It also gives the illusion that it’s already discounted.


The second technique is what I call, disassembling.

It works by breaking it up into smaller, more manageable chunks and taking your quotation.

For example, if a client wanted you to put a website together and write the copy, you might quote him $2,500. But you can also disassemble it, like this:

“I can do build the site for $1,500 and write the copy for $1,000”

Disassembling works because:

  • You’re working with smaller numbers
  • You’re inherently justifying the total price
  • You can easily identify where expectations are not aligned


In precisely the exact same way we studied the customer’s objection, the manner in which you send your quote can have a massive impact on how well it’s received.

Let us look at an example of how freelancers present their quotes to customers:

“I’m thinking I can do this for around $1,500 – how does that sound to you?”

The problem with this approach is that it lacks conviction. It’s an open invitation to challenge you. It feels like you plucked a figure and you’re now looking to the client for validation.

The solution? Turn your question into a statement, like so:

“I will do so for $1,500 — let me know if you’d like to proceed and I’ll set up the contract”

Do you see how powerful that is? It oozes confidence.

It comes across like you have done this a hundred times before by framing it as a statement as opposed to a question if you haven’t. Clients are far less likely to challenge you

Defending Yourself Against Strong Objections

Strong objections are a little harder to overcome.

Regardless of how fair your price is or what reframing techniques you use, some clients either have a super-tight budget or are just hellbent on haggling.

Your reaction to a strong objection may be to lower your cost, but that should always be a last resort.


Sometimes it just takes a bit more justification. A clearer understanding of why your price is what it is.

Start with the reason they were interested in you in the first location. Could it be the quality of your work? A good understanding of this specific project? A ton of experience?

Whatever gives you that edge over other freelancers, that is what creates and you will need to leverage uber-clear on your response.

Here’s an example:

“Sorry, but if I were to discount any further, there’s no way I could invest the time needed to produce the high standard of work I know you’re looking for.”


If you’re still willing to work with the client and you absolutely must discount, here are 4 rules you should follow:

  • Never negotiate with yourself. If they want a discount, ask them to make a counter-offer and attempt to meet them in middle.
  • Only accepted on a conditional basis. It could be anything from a deadline extension to the promise of future work, but it’s important to balance the equation and get something in return.
  • Set future expectations.

Make it clear that this is a one-time deal, discounts are not usually something you offer and you’re making an exception just this once.

  • Be prepared to walk away. If the client is unable to compromise with you, you can and should walk away.


If they keep pushing for a discount, you need be straight with yourself:

Is this really the sort of client you want on your books?

Your first experience with a client will tell you a LOT about the kind of relationship you can expect to have with them. If you buckle now, they’ll probably challenge you again on the next project.

Need help pricing, check out of free facebook group where we go over pricing techniques.


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