When your customers whine, “It’s too expensive!”

I got an email this morning from Tomáš, a subscriber to my “other” newsletter for software developers:

I like your newsletter and I would like to buy your book. But for my country (Czech Republic), even after discount, the book is still too expensive. I have no doubt that your book is great and worth the value. Still, I have lot of another interesting books in my list for half the price.

You have on website: “As a developer, I value my time at $100/hr …”

As a developer, I value my time at $16/hr and I am expensive with this price in my country.

Please, consider better price for Czech / Eurepean users. I am perfectly willing to give $12, at most $17 to be on price I’m used to give for books of that type.

The book he’s referring to is priced at $32 after the discount I’m offering.

And I don’t doubt that wages are quite different between the U.S. and many other countries.

So shouldn’t I cut him a break and lower the price?

Well, I would—if I was a greedy money grubber who didn’t care about his success.

But if I want him to actually learn to use the tool I’m teaching so he can grow as a software developer and eventually increase his income—then the answer is NO.

Here’s a quick story that illustrates why:

Earlier this year, one of my clients gave me access to an online course about building high-converting funnels.

They’d paid $2,000 for the course, and they were offering it to me for “free.”

I’ve taken other courses by this marketer, and I’m sure his funnel course is excellent.

However… I never even looked at any of the material.

Around the same time, I also got access to John Carlton’s Simple Writing System course. This is an intense, 8-week deep dive on copywriting, with 15-20 hours of video, two thick books, and tons of homework.

It’s a beast to get through. Takes a lot of motivation.

And yet I’ve been through all the lectures 3 times—taking extensive notes. I read both books 3 times. I dedicated hours to the homework assignments.

What made the difference?

I paid the full price of $2,000 to learn from John Carlton.

And that motivated me to suck every ounce of value I could out of his course.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons to offer lower prices at times.

But whiny customers looking to add to their dust-collecting digital library?

Not one of ’em.

Michael Hartl - September 20, 2015

Thanks for the thought-provoking post. I have a slightly different take on this subject. When a potential customer says “Your product is too expensive!” as a generalization, it’s a likely sign of a bad, whiny customer. But when such a customer says “Your product is too expensive for me, right now,” it’s often a sign that they are sufficiently motivated but can’t justify the expense. For them, paying $75 for a $150 product might feel more like paying $500.

What’s important is that customers have “skin in the game,” having made a commitment to themselves by putting a painful-to-lose amount of money on the line, not whether they pay the full retail price. As a result, I frequently give discounts to those who request them for personal reasons (e.g., students, foreign readers, those who are temporarily unemployed, etc.). Tellingly, they often come back and buy the full-price product when they can afford it.

I think it’s safe to ignore people who complain about price in general, but a request for a price cut tied to a specific reason could be a sign of someone who might, with a generous but not too-generous discount, become a grateful and loyal customer.

    Josh Earl - September 21, 2015

    Thanks for this, Michael. I agree with you here. It’s also possible that they’re not completely convinced on the value they’re going to get, and that’s fine too. I’d just as soon people hold off buying from me until the time is right for them.

    BTW, your Rails book was awesome. 🙂

      Michael Hartl - September 23, 2015

      Makes sense. And glad you liked the tutorial!

Comments are closed