We want it, but we have no budget….

Rob Novak, a member of my Mentor Program and Million Dollar Consulting® College grad, posted this video reference on Alan’s Forums. I wanted to share it with a wider community, so that you can keep in mind the next time a buyer says, “Can we do it for less?” or “Think of the exposure you’ll get,” or “Let’s just test it.”

40 thoughts on “We want it, but we have no budget….

  1. watching this video i keep seeing myself and reference to my practice.
    This is so funny because it is so true. As long a vedors continue to allow negotiating and to de-value of their work we will struggle with this. I myself am guilty of this.

    Alan what advice do you have to shift the perspective?

  2. 1. Talk only to real buyers, never HR people, trainers, gatekeepers. Use them only to get to the real buyer.
    2. Never talk fee or price, only value.
    3. Get conceptual agreement on desired outcomes, never talk methodology and deliverables.
    4. Act like a peer of the buyer.

    If you’re talking price and not value, you’ve lost control of the discussion. Money is NEVER a resource issue. It’s a priority issue. Logic makes people thing, but emotion makes them act.

  3. I love this! I wrote an article about this. The cashier for the movie rentals reminded of me of the reference I used in my article.

    Alan, is there a very discreet way I can send or show this video to a prospect of mine who just asked (five minutes ago) to rework my proposal for a lower fee?

  4. That doesn’t surprise me from a technical guy. Technical consultants are among the very worst at charging for their worth. You may be the exception, but your comment doesn’t show it. Why would you fold so easily? You’re not helping the client or yourself.

  5. Point taken, Alan. But I don’t actually fold that easily. And my projects are generally well defined – if they need to spend less money, we can easily cut something out. I won’t do the whole thing for less money, but I can do half now for 2/3’s of the cost. I know we’ll eventually end up doing the other half for another 2/3’s of the cost later (oops – does that add up to more than 1?) Pay me now or pay me more later – doesn’t really matter to me.

    Most of my techie buddies shock me by not charging for their worth. I don’t think I have been very guilty of that myself since I read Million Dollar Consulting years ago.

  6. This is equally applicable to the way that service departments within an enterprise are treated by their internal customers. It gets most difficult when it goes beyond financial concerns into “we want lots of changes, however we do not wish to be inconvenienced by them nor do we wish to pay you more money, therefore you will do this work in your own time at midnight for free”.

  7. Stop making me think so hard, Alan!! I’ve been pondering this topic all day. I guess it really doesn’t come up that much – my clients generally do what I tell them they should do. But when they don’t want to spend all the money up front for the type of Lotus Notes development projects I sometimes do it’s easy enough to scale it back and do more later. Notes is like candy – once they get a taste they keep coming back for more, whether they sign off on the whole thing at once or not.

  8. I won’t argue with success, but if they do what you tell them then you’re not telling them the right thing. Dollars to donuts you’re also undercharging. You seem to feel that they need to “sample” you to really appreciate you. That’s not really huge self-esteem operating there!

  9. “There is a technical, consulting term for such people: morons.”


    Can I just tell you how much I freaking luv ya?! (And not in a weird, stalker way, LOL).

    I am so tired of the wishy-washy bleeding hearts who can’t say exactly what they mean and who spend their time twisting themselves into pretzels trying not to offend anyone and otherwise enabling liars, cheats, thieves, etc., by falling all over themselves making excuses for them.

    I can’t tell you how profoundly happy it makes me to finally find a spot in Internetland where I can find honest, direct and intelligent dialogue and conversation about real business, and where a spade is called a spade without all the ridiculous word games.

  10. Life is too short to worry about political correctness, and the fear that someone, somewhere, at some time might be offended. Wait until you see my forthcoming blog article on “the Starbucks woman.” Should post today or tomorrow.

    I don’t believe in being offensive or rude. But I also don’t believe you hide your own light because someone else feels safer in the darkness.

  11. Well said. I had seen article about how everyone on the internet (like Amazon Reviews, Trip Advisor Reviews and Blogs) are too agreeable. I see way too many glowing reviews of books and vacation destinations. It is really unbelievable.

    Anyway, getting back on subject. I had to comment here again because I just had a prospect (for SEO work) who wanted to itemize my “package” deal that is listed on my website. She told me she didn’t need a few of things on the list (of about 20), so she wanted to pay less than what was posted on my site and wanted me to give her a custom proposal. I told her that most of those things are just thrown in as freebies.

    I also told her that when I go to my barber for a hair cut that if opt out of getting my hair washed or the free shoe shine, I don’t expect to pay a lower fee.

  12. “I don’t believe in being offensive or rude. But I also don’t believe you hide your own light because someone else feels safer in the darkness.”

    So very true. Being direct, honest and saying what you mean has nothing to do with being intentionally offensive or rude.

    To Ash, on the agreeableness thing, I call it being Stepford People. No one has any real opinions anymore. It’s all got to be this politically correct positivity where having any kind of critical thinking or something to say that is contrary to the groupthink is negative. I actually find it very frightening.

    Free, independent thinkers unite!!!

    (Okay, back to your regularly scheduled programming.)

  13. Funny clip, but don’t be fooled… it only scrapes the surface. B2B is different than B2C. It’s a crisis. Cash is king. Multinationals are trying to save money. Stay open for alternative solutions. A necessity, also for consultants!

  14. Great video!

    When a client or prospective client starts to talk about features, methodology and the likes, it’s time to refocus them on the business results they want to get. You’re the expert on the former, the client is the expert on the latter.

    Talk their language, don’t expect them to learn yours, otherwise you will dumb your work down to help them understand it and in so doing reduce its value to them. When they start to cherry pick the features or get into the steps in your methodology, in order to reduce your fees, it’s time to remind them who the expert is…you, and that’s why they are hiring you and not doing it in-house.

    Anyway, when they start to see the business results they can expect from working with you, that’s when they get emotionally involved and make decisions.

  15. Very well said, thanks for contributing. Value is based on result, and you and the client should agree on the result and it’s importance. If you’re talking about price and not value, you’ve lost control of the discussion.

  16. Yeah, this is funny, no doubt about it! But let’s not allow the humour to trick us into thinking it’s making a valid point. All this proves is that consulting relationships are different from retail transactions.

    For instance, let’s script another restaurant scene, but this time with the shoe on the other foot …

    (Customer calls over the waiter …)

    Waiter: Good evening, sir.

    Customer: Good evening. I’d like the steak, please, but there’s no price on the menu. How much is it?

    Waiter: Well, it depends.

    Customer: Depends? Depends on what?

    Waiter: It depends on how hungry you are, sir.

    Customer: How hungry I am??? What’s that got to do with it?

    Waiter: Well, obviously, sir, a hungry person would value it much more highly. It wouldn’t be fair to charge as much to somebody who isn’t so hungry. That’s why we rate your level of hunger on a scale of 1 to 10 before quoting you a price.

    Customer: That’s ridiculous! But OK, if you insist: I’m a 6.

    Waiter: Ha ha! Good one, sir. No, seriously – you’re not the best person to assess that. We’re the food experts, so we’ve designed a diagnostic survey that gives a far more accurate reading. And I might say, sir, that most people turn out to be hungrier than they thought they were! Don’t worry, sir – it won’t take long and it won’t cost much.

    Customer: Cost??? Are you saying you’re going to charge me BEFORE you tell me how much my meal will cost?

    Waiter: Of course, sir! How can we quote a fair price without knowing how hungry you are? We have to match our service to your requirements.

    Customer: Look, I really don’t care whether I “match” or not. Here’s $20 – what can I get for that?

    Waiter: Oh, sir – we can’t just take your money. Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice!

    Customer (storming out): Forget it! I’m going to the burger joint across the street. THEY’LL give me what I want.

    Waiter (sniffing haughtily): Yes … but not what you NEED.


  17. Clearly the video is trying to demonstrate that buyers’ demands are unreasonable, but it’s a flawed argument. Comparing a consulting negotiation with a retail transaction is funny, but not valid. Sure, it’s funny when you see “buyers” in these retail transactions acting like B2B buyers, but reverse the roles and it’s easy to make the vendor/consultant look equally foolish.

  18. Although I don’t know Gihan Perera personally, he didn’t lost me. I fully agree with him. Clearly B2C isn’t B2B.

    On top of that, as self proclaimed ‘architect of professional networks’ I would expect a bit more kindness to someone who comments and spends his time and effort in writing a new scenario to underline his thoughts.

    Be well,

  19. You’re missing the point. Many buyers of consulting services want the price cut without losing value. You can’t give in to that. THAT’S the point.

    Hans, when I have to read something that long and convoluted and the point could have been made in a sentence, I say so. You get truth here. If you want “kindness,” get a dog. Oops, that was unkind. Seriously, this isn’t some kind of camp where we sing around the fire. It’s a business site, and I still believe both Gihan and you don’t get the point of the video.

    And stop the B2C and B2B jargon which is old, misleading, and irrelevant. You enter into a partnership with customers, buyer, clients, whomever, if you’re smart. Partners don’t try to take advantage of each other.

  20. Gihan and Hans if you have not already only one comment, join the mentor programme. I don’t understand B2C or B2B but I do understand partnership and my client partners understand value.

    I have been subjected to Alan’s tough love on many occasions. Just look at the outcomes not method of delivery.

  21. Thanks for the fast reply. Reading Gihan’s postings took me less than 2 minutes. Studying several of your insightful books took a lot more of my time. In both cases I didn’t consider the investment irrelevant.

    Partnering for many years with Capgemini Consulting, with over 700 consultants the largest consulting firm in The Netherlands, I happen to know that that they offer several alternative business solutions to their clients contrary of the content of this funny, but in my humble opinion still shallow video.

    P.S. My two year old Frisian Stabij Duke is a great hunting dog, however for cuddling and kindness I like to use the words of my trainer: “Take a cat.” 🙂

  22. Most people understand my books, I don’t understand his comments. But, to each his own.

    I don’t know why this video has struck such a nerve. It’s funny, and mostly true. I get the feeling that some highly analytical people don’t find it so! That’s fine with me, but don’t expect me to agree.

    For example, I’ve never, ever heard anyone refer to a cat as a source of kindness!

    Your Capgemini colleagues still billing by the hour? You ought to keep coming here, you’ll learn better methods!

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