In the design profession there are two distinctive types of clients. Clients that appreciate your work, customer service as well as take your pricing at face value AND there are others that take the dangling carrot approach to entice a better price.

Simmilar to spec work “carrot danglers” typically are new prospects that love your work, respect your process, and don’t want to work with any other firm — but they are looking for a discount on your proposal as they are resistant to paying market value for your knowledge, expertise and creativity.

The Approach

Their approach is this, the client says for instance, “we love your work and would like for you to develop a new website for our company, is there anything you can do to bring the price down, because over the next several months we plan to come back to you for multiple projects?”

Famous Last Words. . .

We’ve had this happen several times in the last 10 years and have learned our lesson. Nine times out of ten, the promise of more work (the dangling carrot) never ends up panning out and if you bought into the idea of a flood of design work coming your way you’re going to be very disappointed because you just reduced your project price for no reason and made less of an overall profit.

This was the easiest decision we ever had to make and helped us realize how empowering it can be to graciously say “no thank you.”

A Prime Example

One particular example that comes to mind was from a client that came to us for a complete rebranding and website project. The project was just over 10K. The decision process took longer than most, but a month later we received a frantic call from the project coordinator. They said, “we’ve narrowed our choice down to between your firm and another company, but before we choose we desperately need you to design a PowerPoint presentation by tomorrow for us, if you do this for us (this project was to be designed at no cost to them mind you) we will choose your firm to work with on the web/branding project.” They also wanted us to drive an hour out of our away and meet them at 6am the next morning to retrieve the content for the presentation. This was the easiest decision we ever had to make and helped us realize how empowering it can be to graciously say “no thank you.”

It’s not easy to turn away a project like that over principle, but, (you’re going to love this) four days later, the client called us and said they had chosen us for the project. What this said to us was two things, A) The client realized that the deal breaker request was in left field and no design firm would entertain that offer after checking with our firm and the other contenders and B) They respected that we stood our ground and we were not just monetarily driven.

Here’s How we Approach Carrot Danglers These Days.

When we’re approached with this idea by a new client, we simply say, “As enticing as this sounds, we’d prefer to handle this one of two ways. Since this is our first time working together, this project will determine if we’re a good fit, if we are and when the next project comes up we can discuss a multiple project discount at that time.” or “We’d be happy to estimate all of your projects for the year now (meaning the initial project AND the others that would follow months later) and provide the multiple project discount at the back-end once we complete all of the work.”

These types of approaches show your willingness to work with the client and also proves as a true validation of intent from the client. If they agree to work with you on your outlined terms, you don’t have the risk factor to worry about and if they don’t agree, you thank them for their time and move on.

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