What it really means when clients say “I can’t afford it”

What it really means when clients say “I can’t afford it”

What do you do when a potential client utters those dreaded words “I can’t afford it”? Does your heart sink? Do you admit defeat – another client opportunity lost?
This is how many people think of it but I want to teach you something different because I’ve learned that in most cases “I can’t afford it” doesn’t mean what it says and it certainly doesn’t signal the end of the road as far as the relationship between you and the client is concerned.

When you hear the words “I can’t afford it” the first mistake is to take your client at their word and to believe them. Once you do this you are no longer in a position to hold them to a higher vision of themselves and no longer able to help them to take that step they need to have the change they want in their in their life. Instead you are joining your client in that place where they feel unable to take the step that will transform their life.

“I can’t afford it” usually means one of three things:

1. There isn’t a fit right now. Sometimes it might be that your service or programme is actually not what they need right now. This is very unusual because otherwise you would not have reached that point in the conversation where you were making them an offer right? You wouldn’t offer a programme to this prospective client unless you felt very certain that you could help them to solve the problem they have. (at least this wouldn’t happen if you are following the right strategy for your free sessions and sales conversations) However, sometimes it just might happen.

2. They haven’t seen the value yet. This means that they don’t see why they need what you’re offering right now and why they should invest in it. It doesn’t mean that they don’t need you – just that they aren’t clear how working with you will solve an immediate pain or problem that they have – yet. In this case the challenge is yours to recap your understanding of their problem or challenge and to clarify exactly how working with you will solve that problem for them.

3. Fear. This is the really big reason that lies behind the words “I can’t afford it” because when presented with an opportunity to really step up, to change things and to shift in a big way, the most natural reaction is to shrink back and to hold on to the safety of what you know. Fear will always kick in because it’s your mind’s way of protecting you from the unknown, from doing something new and possibly tricky or uncomfortable.

Maybe it’s the fear of failing and of not getting the results. Maybe it’s the fear of not being up to it or not being good enough or it’s the fear of being judged in some way, fear of how they will cope, fear of what others will say. The list of fears goes on.
So the real question for you is how do you help to uncover the REAL issue for your client without being pushy?

The answer is to just get curious and ask another question. You might say “I hear that money is a concern for you – is it alright with you if I ask you a question about that?”

It’s important to get their permission to explore this further with them because it’s not the done thing to challenge someone when they say they can’t afford it. People, and I include everyone here, use “I can’t afford it” as a get out clause for all kinds of things and very rarely do we get challenged on it. So by not letting them off the hook immediately you are entering into unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable territory. So get permission to explore this further.

Then find out if it’s really about the money. Go back to the conversation you’ve just had with your client about the problem they said they wanted to solve and what it’s costing them to go on living with the problem. If they are really serious about achieving the result then you are able to explore what it is that is really worrying them.

And if the money is genuinely an issue, then you can explore ways to help your client find the money they need to hire you and do your programme. Remember that people will always find the money for something if it’s important enough to them.

Sure, the clients who say yes without hesitation are fantastic because it’s easy for you. These clients have reached that point where they are ready to feel the fear and do it anyway. But the words “I can’t afford it” aren’t to be feared and are instead to be seen as an opportunity to help those who are really struggling to invest in themselves to achieve the result they want.

Take Action Today

The next time you hear those words “I can’t afford it”, don’t cave in. Get curious and you’ll see your “Yes” rate increase.

By Yvette Nevrkla, the founder and owner of The PT Business Gym which helps Personal Trainers to Get Niched, Get Noticed and Get Clients. Access a FREE Training Video on the Ten Biggest Obstacles To PT Business Success at www.theptbusinessgym.com

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