You go into a meeting where you will be pitching your company’s services and/or products. At some point, the client turns into a charity case when their expectation is that you will do some of the work for free as “goodwill” to earn their business. Been there? And did you comply?
You shouldn’t. Even though the act of giving them something for nothing may seem like you are earning their trust, what you are really doing is degrading the value of your company and its solutions.
There is Little Value in Free
It seems obvious that if something is free, it has little real value. Yet, so many times we are asked to provide complimentary services so that we can earn a client’s business. The thinking is, lose a little now to gain a lot later. But the minute you provide something for free, you have lessened the value it has. The expectation is that if you can offer it for free now, why would someone pay for it in full in the future?
An example: A advertising sales person has the opportunity to sign a major new brand. The potential client says they aren’t sure the campaign is worth the investment and would like to do a “trial run” to see how well it will work. You say yes because the potential future business is so great. In doing so you have made two mistakes:
- Made an assumption of future business. There are so many reasons why a client would back out after the free period is over. Therefore, there is no guarantee that this big fish will ever swim in your pond. Are you willing take that chance?
- Forever devalued your service/product. Once someone gets something for free, it’s pretty hard to convince them they should pay full price in the future. Thus, you have decreased the perceived value of your offer, probably forever.
Establish the Value So They Won’t Ask
It’s easy to give in to a “freebie” request (“I suppose I could lower our commission….”). But the moment you do that, it shows that you didn’t do a good enough job of establishing value. No one walks into a Mercedes dealership and asks for a free S550, right?
You need to gain the client’s understanding and trust. Remember, you are the advocate for YOUR company, it’s products and services. The benefits of those should be reward enough for your client. If you can’t demonstrate that, then it’s back to the drawing board for you. It is not a time to give anything away just to get the business. That will come back to haunt you later.
You can be positive in your response to a request for something for free. Honestly tell your client what you can and cannot do, and why. There is great a value in what your company offers and the client should be made aware of that. Doing anything for less than what you believe is fair shortchanges you and your company.
Have you ever been asked to provide something for free? How did you react?