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Why You Should Drop the Client Who Demands You Drop Your Fee Discounting your services undermines your brand and your bargaining position with all future clients.

By Jacqueline Whitmore Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

When you're passionate about your job it feels as though you could happily work for free, but let's face it, working for free can't pay the bills. Neither does working for a discount.

Discounting your services makes sense from a marketing and sales perspective when you need to attract new business, but you may wind up driving yourself out of business if you continually give away your services or undercut your competitors. Here's why:

You devalue your products or services.

If you automatically give a discount, or jump every time a client requests a reduced fee, you give the impression what you're offering isn't really worth the price you're asking. Instead of selling yourself short, enlighten the client. Explain the value you are offering and why you're worth full price.

You lose respect.

If you give too much away, the client who receives the instant discount may never think of you as the expert again. Imagine asking for a discount from a brain surgeon. Would you expect him or her to say, "Oh sure, I can drop the price." Remember, you've invested a lot of time, money, education and skill in what you do, and your work deserves its full fee. After all, it's not a hobby when you give it you full attention. You'll garner more respect from your clients if you stand firm and don't waiver on your price.

Related: The Price Is Right: Turning a Profit in the Event Planning Business

You look desperate.

Nothing says "I need the work" more than jumping at the first offer of money. Instead, pause and ponder the question as if it's the first time you've heard it. Then give your reasoning why it's not a good idea. Convince the prospect that they are getting the best value already.

You cut your profit.

You spent a lot of time determining the right amount to run your business effectively. If you cut your prices, suddenly you have to work more to make up for the lost revenue. That means longer hours or taking on additional clients to cover the difference. You're better off working with clients who will pay your fee. You'll do a better job for them because you have the time to do your best work.

Related: 5 Decisions Every Entrepreneur Must Face

You forfeit future bargaining power.

When you give a discount, the client will always expect you to discount your work. It's very difficult to go back and ask for your full price once you've demonstrated that your services can be had at less than full price. If you try to raise your price later, the client will likely not accept it, or leave and go somewhere else. Besides, as soon as you start discounting your price for one client, you will have to discount it for another and another. If your client insists on a discount, offer a package price that combines several services in one pricing schedule that includes a volume purchase price reduction.

You really don't want or need bargain-hunter clients.

Is the client who wants the cheapest work really the person you want to work with ultimately? Look back at your target market planning and renew your focus on the types of clients you know you can help, and those who value your services the most.

You'll be less content.

As soon as you ink the deal for a discount, you will regret it and feel a slight bit of resentment. That taints the work you do for the client. Let your work and your reputation shine.

Discounts can be hazardous to your business but are not without place in a mutually respectful relationship. So before you decide to do it, consider all the consequences. In most cases, it's better to walk away than lose your integrity.

Related: 7 Sins of Newbie Entrepreneurs

Jacqueline Whitmore

Author, Business Etiquette Expert and Founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach

Jacqueline Whitmore is an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach in Palm Beach, Fla. She is the author of Poised for Success: Mastering the Four Qualities That Distinguish Outstanding Professionals (St. Martin's Press, 2011) and Business Class: Etiquette Essentials for Success at Work (St. Martin's Press, 2005).

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