5 Reasons Why Potential Clients Might Be Saying, “I can’t afford it.”

One of the most common objections that service-based entrepreneurs hear is the good old standby, “I can’t afford it.” Rarely is this ever true.  You see, people find money for the things that are truly important to them.  It’s the same way with time. People find time for the things that are truly important to them.

If something is truly a priority, people will find all kinds of ways to pay for what they want.  They’ll  save until they have enough cash, put it on a credit card, take out a loan, borrow it, get a second job, ask for a payment plan, have a sale, sell some of the clutter in the garage, etc.

So what does it really mean when someone says, “I can’t afford it?”

Here are 5 hidden reasons why potential clients say, “I can’t afford it.”

  1. It’s not a good fit.  Sometimes people say that they can’t afford it because what you’re offering doesn’t exactly fit their needs.  Get clear on who your ideal clients are and make sure you  take the time to accurately assess their needs before making your offer.
  2. They don’t see the value in it.  If someone says, “It’s too expensive,” this is a big clue that they don’t see the value in your offer.  Usually this is because they are out of touch with what their problem is really costing them.  Almost every problem imaginable has emotional, physical, and financial costs.  Be sure your potential client is aware of all the costs of not working with you AND what they will gain as a result of your work together. Remember to sell based on the results you’ll help them to achieve, not just the features of your offer.
  3. They don’t understand your offer.  If your offer is too vague or too complex, people will turn it down.  Make sure your potential clients know exactly what they will be getting and the benefits of receiving each component.  Present your offer in as many different ways as possible so there is no chance of confusion (ex. Tell them what they’ll get, put it in writing, show them a picture or video of it, give them something tangible, etc.)
  4. Fear and doubt are getting in the way.  Sometimes people say they can’t afford it because they are afraid to take that next leap.  Testimonials, case studies, and other social proof can alleviate this fear to some degree, but not always entirely.  Your client has to be ready for change.  If you’re sensing that your potential client is afraid, ask them about their concerns and acknowledge their feelings.
  5. You’re uncomfortable asking for the business.  Yes, your potential client can sense it if you are uneasy about making an offer.  Remember energy is contagious.  If you’re feeling a lack of confidence, fear, desperation, unworthiness, worried that they can’t afford it, etc., your potential client will pick up on it and probably say, “I can’t afford it.”  Don’t let your own discomfort around asking for money keep you from serving the people you are meant to serve.  Be confident in the value that you provide and know that you deserve to be well-compensated for it.

I’m sure all business owners have heard the words, “I can’t afford it” at some point—I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you’ll handle these situations in the future.   Feel free to leave your comments below.

If you’re hearing “I can’t afford it” more often than you would like, Click Here to take your next step and schedule a time for us to discuss how you can serve more clients.

© 2012 Tiffany deSilva

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5 Response to “5 Reasons Why Potential Clients Might Be Saying, “I can’t afford it.” ”

Mary Ellen Miller
May 3, 2012
8:31 pm

Comment :

Excellent advice as always Tiffany. I think we also have to remember the value that we provide to our clients. I always like to say I’m Nordstroms not Wal-Mart.

Bill Painter
May 4, 2012
8:52 am

Comment :

I agree thqat the “I cannot affordit is a non-reason.” The same people will turn around and spend the same amount or more on something that does not increase their business or help them advance. I think making sure that that I have covered the gap of where thaey are verus where that want to be is key for me. They need to be able to see the value (which may be non-monetary) in me helping them.

Linda Pucci
May 4, 2012
3:21 pm

Comment :

This is a great posting, Tiffany, You are absolutely right; when people understand the value of what you have to offer and it fits what they are looking for, they can find the money. We need to be clear about what we have to offer and how it can help and (the biggest challenge) communicate that.

May 22, 2012
8:31 am

Comment :

What a great post, I found it really helpful, thanks a lot. I think the uncomfortable feeling under 5 is a direct consequence of the points 1-3. When you have talked too often to people who are not a match, don’t see the value or don’t understand you, feeling uncomfortable to ask for a sale and fear and doubt are a logical consequence.

And I realized something else through your post: that I feel the need to be a “helping professional” only because I grew up among people who didn’t understand me, didn’t see any value in my contributions or didn’t need me, while I desperately craved for some “self development” in them so that they would stop hurting me. And I think that is what keeps drawing me back to exactly those people who are not a good match. I still try to make them see the value I could be for them, understand what I have to offer and understand that they need me, so I can feel safe and at peace because, iff they had what I offer, they would stop hurting me.

I can see how looking for the ideal client is an elegant way out. But it doesn’t heal the discontent of not being able to “forge” my message in a way that those people understand me and value my offer and see that they need what I have to offer. I mean it’s like people thinking they need an “energy drink” when what they need is a rest but this never occurs to them, so they decline the offer. Or healthy food, or whatsoever. How do you get people who can’t see their “authentic needs” to see them, start seeing the value of something they consider valueless and understand an offer? Is it futile to work on improving my skills into that direction?

Tiffany deSilva
May 27, 2012
4:56 pm

Comment :

Hi Joseann,

Thank you so much for your feedback and very thoughtful response. Explaining your offer in away that people *understand* your value is different than trying to *convince* someone of the value in your offer. If someone holds strong beliefs that aren’t compatible with your services, they are not a match for you. Trying to convince them otherwise is setting up yourself and your potential client for disappointment. There is always room for educating people, but only if they want to be educated.

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