How to Respond to "You're Too Expensive"

  1. Bye Felicia

  2. Peace out Girl Scout

  3. Thank u, next

Okay okay, all joking aside, “you’re too expensive” is the WORST thing to hear.

It sucks for a few reasons:

  1. Obviously you do not think you are too expensive, so there is no chance you and the client are going to agree here. They’re just starting…you know what.

  2. Chances are, you are right and the client is wrong. That’s because the client does not understand the training, expertise, and time that goes into creating what they’re asking you to create. I guarantee that if the client tried to DIY, it would cost more or be a lower quality recreation of the product. This isn’t to be a jerk, it’s just a fact - if your work didn’t have value, they wouldn’t be attempting to pay someone to do it.

  3. No one walks into Gucci and tells Gucci they’re too expensive. They walk into Gucci, see the prices, and either pay for the purse or don’t. They may walk out gossiping with their friends about the pricing, but they don’t complain to Gucci about it. This type of complaining is fairly specific to the art world, and, as I’ve said, it sucks.

What’s actually happening here isn’t that you’re too expensive, it’s that the client had the wrong expectation, which can happen for a number of reasons, and here’s where I’ll be a little lenient with them - because none of those reasons are their fault. It’s the duty of the industry and of your company to set the right expectations for people before pricing is sent out. You have to take that on yourself to do better in the future - here’s a post about it!

But for this client, how should you respond? It’s hard not to get emotional about these things, but try not to. If someone did walk up to the Gucci saleswoman and say the purse was too expensive, that saleswoman wouldn’t go home and cry about it. She’d say “Bye, Felicia” and move on, and that’s basically what you should do too.

Here are 3 of the best ways to respond when someone tells you you’re too expensive:

  1. “Dear Client, Thank you for getting back to me. I completely understand that you have to prioritize within your budget. Let me know if anything changes, or if you need anything in the future.” Do not apologize, do not accept their accusation, and most of all, do not explain yourself. You owe no one an explanation of your pricing. You may have set the incorrect expectation in some way, but your pricing itself is not the problem (in 98% of cases!).

  2. “Dear Client, Thank you for getting back to me. I completely understand that you have to prioritize within your budget. If we printed the addresses instead of using calligraphy, then the total would come down by about $300. Let us know if you’d like to explore that option.” There are often times where we can adjust the services or products provided to affect cost. If this is something you’re willing to do, explain the parameters to the client, and leave the option open for them to move forward or bow out - hopefully more gracefully than their first attempt.

  3. “Dear Client, Thank you, next.” Okay, maybe not this exact wording, but if someone is being in any way disrespectful toward you, your pricing, policies, or any other aspect of your business, you have no obligation to respond positively, or at all. Be professional, do not disrespect them at all, but you can send a firm response that shows you’re no longer interested. This would actually look more like “Dear Client, I believe that we will not be the right fit for your project. Thank you, Laney.”

In the end, a client who thinks you’re too expensive is just not your client. They’re not necessarily being disrespectful by asking for a discount, it’s more likely that they’re just uneducated about your services….or if this is happening often, then there is likely some type of vibe you’re putting off somewhere that’s attracting the wrong type of client. Focus on your branding and your Ideal Clients, and you’ll start seeing this less often.

Let us know what you think in the comments - which is your favorite response? I’m a fan of anything that comes with a cool hand gesture, so I’ll go with Peace Out Girl Scouts!!!!