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How much will this cost me?

Ben Byth

It is not often that people recognise that questions such as ‘how much will this cost me’ are in fact an opportunity to negotiate. To my delight however, a client called me yesterday to tell me they did just that.


The client I had been working with is an engineering firm who specialise in automation within factories. They had been approached by a factory who they had never worked with before and were asked how much it would cost for an isolated upgrade of a machine.


Usually in this situation, most people might ask a few scoping questions and then provide a price. This engineering firm didn’t. They recognised that because the factory wanted this information, they might be able to get something in return for quoting. It was an opportunity to negotiate.


My client quickly went to his wish list and proposed, ‘if you tell me about future plans for scopes of work, I will quote on this isolated machine upgrade’. What he quickly learned was that this upgrade was going to be the first of many across multiple sites. 


Don’t be afraid to trade your concessions! If people ask you for something, they are likely to be prepared to trade something for it.


Walk in prepared with good questions to ask your counterparty and possible wish/concession list items to trade. It would have been very difficult to do, if my client hadn’t walked into this meeting already thinking that they wanted to identify the total possible scope of this new client.


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