A few weeks ago I saw a great picture. It was the picture from the movie Life of Pi. The tall, strapping Indian boy is sitting at the back of the boat with the giant tiger in front of him roaring. Over the picture were the words “Client Brief.” Next to that picture was another picture. In the second picture there is a small Indian boy and in front of him is a tiny, frazzled alley cat. Over that picture were the words “Client Budget.”

It’s a funny picture because it reveals a truth. Your clients want to produce bigger outcomes but they resist spending the money to produce those outcomes. It reveals another truth for those brave enough to accept it: You have to help your clients spend the money they really need to spend–even when they don’t want to spend it.

It’s About Outcomes

Some of your prospects want outcomes that they literally can’t afford. But more of your dream clients can afford the outcomes they want, they’d just rather not pay for them if they don’t have to. That means it’s your job to tell them they have to.

The first part of negotiating isn’t about the price. The first part of negotiating is about the value you create, the outcomes you are going to deliver. Your dream client is always going to ask you to sharpen your pencil. But you should sharpen your value instead.

You start by revisiting the outcomes. You say, “I understand price is always important. But I want to make sure I understood what you wanted. You want outcome 1, outcome 2, and outcome 3. The proposal we built is the investment it takes to deliver all three of those outcomes? Is it worth it to you to give up some of those outcomes to obtain a lower price, and if so how should we revise our proposal?”

You might have to say, “ I understand you want to be fiscally responsible, and I know that other people will promise you that you can have better, faster, and cheaper. Have you ever found that paying less for something gets you something better? Can I review the investment that we’re making here to remind you of why it necessary and how it ensures that we get these outcomes together?”

Torn Between Two Outcomes

Your job is to help your dream client get what they really want. They really want the outcomes that you helped them discover as you worked with them. They also really want a lower price. It is your job not to be torn between these two desired outcomes. It is your job to help them make the right investment, the investment that will deliver the results they need.

You have to help them be the tiger in the client briefing picture, not that frazzled alley cat in the client budget picture.

Do you have clients who need your help making the right investment in the results they need? Have you failed a prospective client in the past by allowing them to choose a competitor at a lower price only to lose the results they could have had? Who do you need to help make better investments? What conversations do you need to have?

Reply to send me your stories, thoughts, and ideas. You know what you need to do this week, so go bravely tackle it!

S. Anthony Iannarino

Contributor Anthony Iannarino is an entrepreneur, speaker, author, and consultant. He writes daily at and you can subscribe to his newsletter at