What Does a Customer Mean When He Promises Future Orders but Wants a Discount on the First One?

Customers and clients often say one thing, but what they really mean can be quite different from the face value of their words.
Here’s what they say, what they mean and how to respond.
“If you help me out on this order (ie., sell it to me cheap), there will be many more orders in the future.”
This is a classic statement of a customer or client that wants a discount, often resulting in no profit or a loss for the business, with the “promise” of future orders. A variant is, “I have a lot of friends. If you give me a good price, I’ll recommend you to others.”
Customers say this because they think it will motivate the seller to give a price discount because there will be great profits at some time in the future.
The seller, however, should rightly hear true message of the buyer:
“I don’t want to pay you a fair amount, and since I am only shopping based on price, I will never let you make a profit on me. In fact, I will use these same lines over and over as I go through all possible suppliers. I will have no loyalty to you.”
How can you respond to the future-will-be-brighter buyer?

  1. Flip the scenario. Tell her that you value loyalty and you want her as a customer. Offer a future price reduction based on number and quantity of future purchases.
  2. Offer a graduated discount. Give 5% on the first order and 10% on future orders.
  3. Give rewards based on actual referrals. If the customer’s referral leads to a new client, provide the customer with a discount, upgrade or other reward.
  4. Offer a contract. Tell the customer that you can help him out on the first order if he’ll agree, in writing, to a regular supply contract with reasonable terms.
  5. Be honest. Tell the customer, “We can’t sell products without a reasonable profit. If you won’t let us make a reasonable profit, I’m afraid we can’t do business.”

Any time a customer or client wants to dictate terms, especially terms that don’t create a win-win scenario for the buyer or the seller, think about what would change in the future. Is a price-focused customer ever going to focus on what you should be providing: great products a reasonable price? Will there be any loyalty of a customer like this?
Kona Impact has completed 2,500 projects for clients in Hawaii. We make great efforts to ensure that we offer value, timely service and exceptional design and marketing solutions to our clients. We learned long ago that our local suppliers are valued partners in our business. Likewise, most of Kona Impact’s customers understand the value of what we do for them.
If you have a design, marketing, printing or sign project, give us a call at 808-329-6077.
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