September 6, 2016

How to respond to “We’ll Never Get This Through Accounting” discount requests

At some point in the sales process, your prospect may say something like:

I categorize these sorts of statements like so:

We’ll Never Get This Through Accounting - Client cites some company policy, cultural attitude, or financial threshold that will cause the project fee or hourly rate to be rejected out of hand.

These sorts of objections are not specifically discount requests, but they do attempt to force you into unfavorable payment terms. It could be that the contact truly feels hamstrung by rigid policies, or it could be that they are bluffing.

My approach in situations like these is to play hardball - politely, of course. Rather than throw up my hands and accept the broken policy, I approach the restriction as a hurdle that my contact and I need to overcome together.

For example...

Contact: “The maximum I can pay out without approval of senior management is $5000.”

Me: “Understood. Well, I know how important this engagement is to your company. Is there some way we could work around this?”

Contact: “For instance?”

Me: “What if we broke the project into 3 phases, each priced at $5000?”

Contact: “That works for me.”


Contact: “Company policy requires that we pay contractors by the hour.”

Me: “Hm... is there a maximum hourly rate?”

Contact: “I don’t think so.”

Me: “How about I invoice for 1 hour at $3,500?”

Contact: “Might work. I’ll try it.”


Contact: “Our systems don’t support pre-payment for services.”

Me: “How about I send you a net-30 invoice today and we set the project start date for a month from today?”

Contact: “That’s fine. Yeah, we can’t get started for two weeks anyway.”

If we can’t come up with a solution and my option is to “take it or leave it”, I walk away.

True buyers can work around rigid policies. If you’re not talking to the true buyer, you’re not going to have much luck overcoming these sorts of objections.