When A Sales Prospect Can’t Afford You

When A Sales Prospect Can't Afford You By Jill Celeste, www.JillCeleste.com“I can’t afford your services right now.”

How many times have you heard this sentence during a sales conversation?

If you’re anything like me, it’s been countless times. And it can be discouraging, especially when you really want to work with this person.

So, how should you respond when your sales prospect says she cannot afford you?

It really comes down to understanding if she truly cannot afford you (as in, it will take food off the table), or if she’s not willing to invest in herself. I call this “can’t versus won’t.”

I talk about this conversation in this week’s marketing strategy video. Please take a look:



I love to create graphics that enhance the learning in my weekly marketing strategies. Please feel free to share these on your social media!

The changes you seek will occur after you invest in yourself. - Jill Celeste


Hey, everyone. It’s Jill Celeste from the Celestial Marketing Academy and jillceleste.com where I teach purpose driven entrepreneurs all they need to know about marketing so they could become the directors of marketing for their business.

What happens when someone says that she can’t afford your services? Oh, it’s such a heartbreaking thing for you to say because it often feels like it’s the end of the line for the sales conversation. But I want to talk to you today about the layer underneath that sentence and how you can help your client or your future client reach past whatever is holding her back from investing with you.

Really what I think of when I hear this sentence, “I’m so sorry I can’t afford you,” is I think about the positioning of can’t versus won’t. Those are two different things and someone may say to you that they can’t afford you but it’s really that they won’t invest in themselves.

Let’s take the first part of this equation, the can’t. There are going to people you talk to who truly cannot afford to invest in a program with you. Literally it would take food off the table. What do you do with those people? Well, remember your ideal client is always someone who can pay for your services but that doesn’t mean that this person should just be discarded because right now she doesn’t have the financial resources to afford you. What this means is beginning of the sales conversation that’s going to last for a while.

What I would do in this particular situation is I would reassure her that this is okay. Then whatever free resources you have, make sure she’s in touch with them whether it’s subscribing to your blog or following you on your various social media or subscribing to your YouTube channel or downloading all your lead magnets. All of those things that you offer for free, make sure she’s getting them. That continues the love between you two and it helps her out because if she implements what you’re making videos about or what your webinar is about, it’s going to help her.

Also make a plan, if you feel like this is the right thing to do, to help her afford your services. It could be making a list of ways to make money or maybe creating a program that she could sell quickly that would generate those funds. Depending on your business, that might be something else for you to do. Your job is to continue to follow up with this person lovingly and hold this space for her so that she can eventually come work for you. That is not a no. It’s just not now and that’s a completely different way you handle those folks who can’t truly afford you.

Now, let’s shift to the people who won’t afford you. These are the people and they’re often women who have a poor self-worth mindset. These are the people who put themselves last and I have been in this category more than I can attest to. These are the people who won’t invest in themselves because they know that the holidays are coming or that their kids need school clothes or they just don’t say yes to themselves, and your job in this situation is to do what you can and call it out gently and remind them they are worth it. Again, these are not the people that can’t afford your services. These people do have the money but just won’t make the commitment because they feel like they have to satisfy everybody else before themselves.

Ask them to journal about this. Ask some probing questions such as do you really want this change to occur? Or ask the question like who are you afraid you’re going to disappoint? Really get down deep in these conversations. Invite the person to journal about it or to talk to you about these things. This is not an opportunity for you to guilt them into this purchase but it’s to hold them up to the mirror and saying, “Is it really that you can’t afford it or you’re afraid to invest in this because of yourself, because of your self-worth?” This maybe a conversation that you take over several phone calls. You may not get a yes on that first phone call but go ahead. Before you hang up or before you say goodbye, say, “Let’s touch base on a couple of weeks,” and make an appointment with that person right there so that you can follow up and see how their mindset is shifting or not.

Now, this is not a rabbit hole. It really depends on the person and if you feel like divinely contracted to work with that person, but this is what you do to help someone say yes to opportunities that will help her make the change that you can facilitate for her. I hope this helps with your sales conversations. Think about the can’t versus won’t. Put those sales prospects in either camp and then make the right strategies to continue to woo that person, follow up with that person and love that person.

If you need additional marketing help, come on over to my website at jillceleste.com. You could read my blog posts which are always free. You can learn more about my coaching programs and more about the Celestial Marketing Academy. I’m here to serve you. It’s my honor and I’m sending you lots of love. Until next time, here’s to your marketing success. Take care. Bye-bye.

Jill Celeste - Marketing CoachABOUT JILL

Jill Celeste, MA is a bestselling author, marketing teacher and founder of the Celestial Marketing Academy. Jill teaches purpose-driven entrepreneurs everything they need to know about marketing so they can become the Directors of Marketing for their businesses.

Jill is the author of the Amazon Top 25 Bestselling Marketing Book, That First Client, as well as the co-author of the bestseller, Cultivating Joy, and international bestseller, Gratitude and Grace.

Jill graduated with a B.A. in English from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She obtained her master’s degree in history from the State University of Georgia in Carrollton. Prior to becoming a marketing coach, Jill worked for 14 years in the private sector, and has experience in marketing and public relations in healthcare, IT and small business.

Jill lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, two sons, two guinea pigs and a basset hound named Emma.

For more information about Jill’s programs, please visit www.jillceleste.com. To get a free copy of Jill’s Amazon Bestselling book, That First Client, please go to www.ThatFirstClient.com.


4 thoughts on “When A Sales Prospect Can’t Afford You

  1. Barb Parcells

    Although I do not have a business where this is an issue, I have been known to purchase a copy of one of my ebooks for someone, or give them a gift card to purchase them on their own. In this way I feel as if I am investing in them as well as myself

  2. Cindy

    Great information, Jill! I appreciate your knowledge and pearls of wisdom. You always offer easy-to-implement and realistic approaches to some of the ickiest parts of being in business. I will keep this article in mind when I hear those “I can’t afford you” responses. Thanks a million!

  3. Rachel

    Thank you so much Jill for showing us the difference between those who really cannot pay right now and those who needs to be guided to prioritize themselves. Being generous with both and with ourselves is something that is aligned with my beliefs and I love that you lead from that space too.

  4. Debra Oakland

    Great article Jill. Business is business and people are people, so there is the conundrum, but you give great advice on how to invest in ones-self, bringing balance to the table.


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