how to decline a discount request

As a small business owner, you’re going to get a lot of different requests for many different things. And although the customer isn’t always right, we still tend to operate in a world that assumes that they are. After all, they can rate us and talk about us and that can impact our business. Therefore, we want to make them happy. So how can we be good at business but still say no to things at times? For example, can you learn how to decline a discount request from customers?

What is a Discount Request?

Customers frequently ask for discounts. Any time that a customer requests a lower price than you ask for, that’s a discount request. Although it feels slightly different, it’s also a discount request if a customer wants something for free. If you aren’t the type of person to request discounts yourself, then you might be surprised to discover how often it happens in your small business. You’ll learn quickly; it happens a lot.

Put a Plan in Place Before It Becomes a Problem

The best thing that you can do in terms of how to decline a discount request is to get proactive. Think about possible scenarios where this might arise. Then think about how you want to handle it. If you have a protocol in place, then it’s a lot easier to say no to the customer. If you’re caught by surprise without a plan, then you’re more likely to give them a discount that you’ll regret.

When Is It Okay To Decline a Discount Request?

Comm100 notes five common times when it’s okay to decline a discount request:

  1. They flat out ask you for a discount on something that’s not on sale. They don’t even have a reason. Instead, they’re just trying to barter.
  2. Alternatively, they ask for a “better” discount. You’ve already offered a sale price but they say, “you can do better for me, right? Wink, wink.”
  3. The customer has a coupon that you created. However, it’s expired or otherwise inactive.
  4. The customer has a coupon from another company.
  5. They ask you to give them something for free.

Your policies are entirely up to you. You might have a blanket (unspoken) policy that anyone who asks for a “better” discount gets a 10% discount. If you’ve worked that into your protocols, then that’s fine. Or you might have a hard no for any discounts that you haven’t explicitly offered yourself. The decisions are up to you. It’s just important to make those ahead of time so you (and any employees you may have) know how to respond to discount requests.

Another policy might be to honor expired coupons within a certain time frame.

A Case By Case Basis

Obviously, you can’t account for everything ahead of time. Sometimes a customer will ask for a discount for a really unique reason that you hadn’t thought of in advance. How do you want to handle these case-by-case situations? It’s good to come up with a few standard responses for when you decide to say “yes, okay,” or “yes, but” or “no.”

How to Decline a Discount Request and Still Keep Customers

First of all, know that it’s okay to decline their request. Don’t be apologetic, waver, or show a lack of confidence. You can decline the request politely and professionally. Here are some tips:

  • Acknowledge that you’ve heard the request. People want to be heard. For example, “It sounds like the price is higher than you’re open to paying right now. I can understand that. Unfortunately …”
  • Offer an alternative. “Unfortunately, I can’t honor that request. However, did you know that we have sales every Tuesday or that if you join our rewards club you get regular discounts?”
  • Share your policy. “We don’t honor competitor’s coupons. However, we would love to put you on our mailing list so that you can receive our coupons as they become available.”
  • Align with them. “I know that must seem really expensive. We have a hard time making a profit even at that price. There are a lot of steps involved in the process, so we offer the best price that we can.”
  • Let them walk away. You’re not going to please everyone all of the time. You don’t need customers who only want free things. It’s okay to let them walk away if you can’t make them happy.

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