How to Say No to Clients with No Budget


Do you feel frustrated by having to constantly deal with those clients who are price shoppers? If so, then this episode is for you. Michelle Weinstein brings over Business Growth Strategist, Denise Mandeau, to help guide you on how to say no to clients with no budget. Familiar with the pains and difficulties this situation brings, Michelle and Denise share three tips that will help you stop wasting time on these clients and to finally get paid what you are worth, never a penny less. Tune into this great conversation to move your way up to becoming the Abundant Accountant that you know you should be.

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How To Say No To Clients With No Budget With Denise Mandeau

Are you an accounting professional who worries about maybe where your next client may be coming from or maybe you struggle with inconsistent cashflow? Maybe it’s about what we’re talking about and how to say no to those clients that are asking you for discounts or price shopping you? If you need some help, then head on over to and get my five simple steps process that accountants have used to go from waiting around for the busy season, to getting the higher value clients that do pay you the fees that you deserve. You appreciate the work that you do for them.

Before we dive into this episode, I want to thank our reviewer of the week, Gayathri I, “Inspirational and encourages us. This show gives me a reason to believe in the value I’m giving to my clients. Michelle always gives the right message to do it more and do better. Thank you.” This is true because on the show, we are talking about believing in your value and having that confidence so you can learn how to turn away those clients that tell you they don’t have a budget. That tells you they can’t afford you and you’re too expensive. What’s the way to do that powerfully where you can also maybe get a referral out of it or work with them in the future? With that being said, I would love to hear from more of you, and I want to get to know more of you who read in.

I invite you to hit that subscribe button, scroll down below and leave a written review because I do love reading all your reviews. This allows me to keep delivering the content that you want in love. Leave a written review and your honest opinion of how the show has helped you in your firm, in growing your business and turning away the clients that you don’t want to work with. I will also take any written reviews in the future and feature them on a future show episode.

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We are talking about how to say no to clients with no budget or without a budget. Many accounting professionals have come to us and they’re frustrated. By clients wanting a discount or constantly having to deal with those clients that are price shoppers. Denise and I get it. We’ve been there, we’ve been in your shoes. Saying no to the potential business at first can be difficult and hard, but it’s the time that you probably want to start that in the future you get paid what you’re worth and never penny less. You don’t have to deal with that like, “I can’t believe I took on that client and they were such a pain in my butt.”

In this episode, Denise and I are going to give you three tips to help you stop wasting time with potential clients without a budget. Welcome, Denise, to this show. As always, it’s an honor to have you here and we will be more consistent on being here on the show together with you all. Tip number one, and Denise, you tell me what your thoughts are on this one. To avoid those clients that are price shoppers, the clients that are looking for a discount all the time, you need to focus on your confidence. What we found is that a lot of the accountants that once they start focusing on their confidence, you get aligned with what you’re worth and what your services and offerings are. You don’t care about the discounts or what someone else might be charging and the price surrounding your offerings, increased. I’ve seen it even with the students that we’ve worked with. They’ve started to raise their prices. What are the 1 or 2 things that you’ve seen, Denise, as far as confidence relates to price shoppers, giving discounts away and all that other nonsense that gets us in the way from serving more clients?

Confidence is king. When you think about it, when the accountants that we’ve met with or accounting professionals, most of the time what we find is that they haven’t defined what kind of people they want to work with. They’re more focused on, “I’ve got to get clients in.” They’re pretty much taken everybody in anybody and they’re surprised when somebody is like, “I’ll work with you, but can you do any better than that?” They try to negotiate with them and all this stuff. They end up taking clients on that they don’t even want to work with and then they feel resentful because they’re not getting paid their value.

Bernard Hopkins says this quote, “If you don’t know your value, someone will end up telling you your value and it will be less than what you’re worth.” That’s what a lot of times we see happening. You need this client, but you needing that client are hurting you and them because you’re going to end up giving them a discount or you’re going to end up not charging them truly what you should have charged them. At the end of the day, this is your accounting firm, this is your accounting practice and this is your accounting business or whatever you want to call it. Your prices and what you charge your clients is not determined by someone else’s budget.

When you’re confident about your value, confidence is attractive. You’ll start attracting people who are happy to pay your value.

For accountants, confidence is king. Share on X

I know this is not a dating show, but I’ve been dating. When you have a lot of confidence, it’s similar to your business. In business, you get paid a lot more but in dating, you can get people who want to keep taking you out on dates. Confidence helps you in all ways that you don’t know. Denise, for you, because someone reading might be thinking, “Michelle and Denise, that all sounds great, but what do I do to get confident if I have zero confidence in the bucket?” How do they fill their bucket up of confidence?

First of all, establishing for yourself like, “What do I want to get paid? Who do I want to work with?” Establishing that for yourself and that’s some of the things that we teach in our class. Otherwise, if you think of yourself as a radio frequency, if you don’t know what channel you are, if you’re country, rock or jazz, your tuner’s fuzzy. You’re putting out these fuzzy signals. When you have a clear frequency, then you know what station you are and you’re not going to deviate from that because you don’t want to be fuzzy and then people respect that. They’re looking for a clear channel.

I know what channel and frequency I’m on. I’m on high frequency and chill music. For the accountants reading this blog, it’s about choosing your station. Which channel are you or which two channels are you? You’re not in the middle where it’s not fuzziness in between. I don’t listen to the radio anymore, but I remember it used to have that fuzzy frequency. The first tip is focusing on your confidence and choosing your frequency and your radio station at which stations are you going to tune clearly so your clients and prospects know who you’re targeting and who you want to work with. It goes both ways. When you know, those people aren’t going to be looking for discounts.

When you think about it, you could be the QVC Chanel or you could be the Neiman Marcus Chanel.

We are Neiman Marcus. For anyone reading who might want to work with Denise and I, we are high-end Nordstrom personal executive shoppers or Neiman Marcus. We are not the cheap ones on the block, but we get you lots of results. When you talk about dating, I’ve heard this before, high maintenance equals high performance. We are working with the high maintenance bunch, but we get top-notch performance. What do you serve in your business? Do you want to be a lower-end or do you want to attract the higher end? This leads in also, Denise, into our next tip, which is knowing who you want to work with.

This goes a little bit more in-depth with tuning your channel, but maybe you can share a little bit about this because I love where you were going with that. If you don’t get specific on who you’re targeting if you don’t dial in on the frequency to the radio station you want, you’re going to spend more time on people who either A) Can’t afford you or, B) Who can’t decide to even work with you. Those people are probably the ones in the fuzzy departments. What do you think about that on how they can get more specific on who they want to work with to eliminate those people who can’t work with them because they don’t have a budget? We’re trying to learn how to say no to clients without a budget.

We talked about this a lot, some of the things that you could think about are what level of revenue do you want somebody to be already at before you even consider working with them? That would be a good one. What industry? We have a lot of people that we talk to and they’re like, “I don’t want to work with restaurant people. They’re not my client,” or whatever it is. You want to get clear on what industry you enjoy working with? You may want to think about who are your best clients that you like, “I get to meet with that person. I love them.” You feel valued and you feel like you could do your best work with.

AA 37 | Clients With No Budget

Clients With No Budget: Confidence is attractive. When you’re confident about your value, you’ll start attracting people who are happy to pay your value.


You might have heard it before called the niche. Getting clear on your niche, getting clear on the level of revenue you want from a client to have. If you are working with business owners at minimum revenue of $1 million, I don’t think they’re going to be asking you for discounts. If you’re working with business owners that are doing $50,000 a year in revenue, maybe they can’t afford you, maybe they can’t afford a premium service. Think about that because those are our limitations and you get to set the limitations for yourself. Not only are you choosing your frequency, Denise, maybe you can think of another great analogy. The frequency is what you want and what station you are going to be so those clients know to tune into 93.3 instead of getting 93.5, which is the fuzzy part. In addition to that, what services do you want to offer to them? What’s the revenue that you’re looking for in your future clients? If you have to say no to clients because they don’t have a budget, maybe you need to look at your frontend process to start attracting those clients that have zero budgetary issues.

If you don’t get clarity around this, it’s like getting in a car with a full tank of gas and you don’t punch anything in the GPS. What happens? You’re going to either stay still because you don’t know where you’re going or going to put the pedal to the metal and you’re going to drive around until you run out of gas, not get what you want. By getting clear on who you want, who your destination client is, that will help you when you’re at a networking meeting or a call comes in like, “I want to know what you do.” You’ll be prepared to make sure that’s somebody you want to work with.

Thinking about your GPS, what address are you going to put into that GPS? Where do you want to go? If you don’t have a direction, if you don’t have a frequency on your radio station that you’re tuning in to every single day, then you’re lost. No wonder you have to say no to a lot of clients that have no budget.

Maybe you’re saying yes to some and you’re lowering your fees because you’re like, “I’ve got to help everyone.” You don’t. That’s where you’re going to run out of gas.

You don’t have to help everyone. Denise and I can’t help each of you, but we do have this show here to help some of you that we can’t work within our smaller groups. Also, this brings me to another point too. A bonus tip in the future, even if someone’s not a good fit they might be in 1 or 2 years. Even if your GPS isn’t taking you to your exact address and destination and you’re trying to up-level your destination and get to Fiji, those Fiji clients will be there in the future. You have to do a proper follow-up. Denise, didn’t we work with someone that was doing this? He figured out who he wanted to work with and it paid off quite a bit.

There are a few people. I could think of one of our students that just graduated, Linda. She was taking everybody and anybody. She was wasting her time and then she figured out her GPS. She had a system in place. She stopped taking people that aren’t a fit for her and she landed her biggest client. It was a $31,000 commitment.

It is huge because when you go from people wanting to ask you for discounts, “Why are you raising your prices because last year you only did this?” to have a 180 shift. The 180-shift for her was an annual client that’s going to commit about $30,000 in revenue. That’s a massive shift. For Linda, it’s extremely easy for her to say no to clients that A) Don’t have a budget or, B) Are price shoppers or asking for discounts. It gets simple once you make the shift in your firm because it’s a mindset shift. If you think about it, if they don’t meet your GPS requirements, your frequency requirements, they might be a great client in the future. That’s additional revenue in the future.

Since we talk a lot about increasing revenue here on the show, keep that in mind just because it’s a no, doesn’t mean it’s a no in the future. This happened to us. Scott, if you’re reading, this story is about you. Scott was an ideal client for us and he told us, “No, it’s not a great time.” Several months he came back, he paid us more. He did not get his empowered decision bonus discount, but he paid us more, got more value out of it. He ended up doing over $140,000 in revenue with us. He sent me a text message. I’ve never seen this before, but a client that was worth $450,000 for one engagement. Kudos to you, Scott. It does pay off but again, not all clients are going to be a yes, but some will be. Make sure to create a follow-up system.

Put savings in your relationship bank. That way, you're storing up future relationships. Share on X

To your point, when Scott came to us, he didn’t have the confidence yet to be able to even land a client like that.

He had to fill up his confidence bucket.

He had known his worth.

He did and he got it and he figured it out too pretty quick. To recap, tip number two knows who you want to work with. What are you going to punch in your GPS? Where are you going? You need to know if you don’t know, you got to pick something because if you don’t pick anything, it’s worse off. Our tip number three to know when how to say no to clients without a budget or would no budget for that sake is stick to your boundaries. Your boundaries, meaning more specificity in the types of clients that you want to work with. I would create an action item of, what are three boundaries that you can create around the types of clients that you want to work with?

For example, one of the boundaries that Denise and I have when working with clients is everyone pays us upfront. Granted, we deviated from this boundary a couple of weeks and it’s driving us crazy. It’s okay, we’re going to make it through, but one of our boundaries that we will never deviate from is that we get paid 100% upfront. Denise and I do not like to be a collection agency, which I don’t think any of you want to be a collection agency either. Not being a collection agency allows you to provide better service to your clients. You don’t have any accounts receivable anymore. You don’t have to chase anybody for payments, you can focus on serving and helping them.

Denise, what about for you and from what you’ve seen with the people we’ve worked with a couple of other good tidbits as it relates to creating your boundaries but ultimately sticking to it. No one is perfect. Denise and I still aren’t perfect and we deviated from this and it’s driving slightly crazy. What other tips do you have for the accountants who are reading as it relates to sticking to their boundaries so they have the confidence to say no to the clients that don’t have a budget?

One thing you can do is one of the boundaries I know even that we’ve seen over and over again is people who aren’t willing to give you the information that you need to help solve their problems. If they’re not willing to do that on time, then you might not want to consider them as a client. Maybe it’s a boundary of they have to be in business a certain amount of years or something like that. That might be another one to stick with. It’s what’s personal to you and what feels right for you. Once you do that, once you have your boundaries set, you’ve got to stick to it. We made an exception and we know. We haven’t done that and then we did it. They were like, “We know why we shouldn’t be doing that.”

Another boundary that you might want to add to your repertoire is pre-qualifying clients. If someone’s not willing to talk to you or answer a few simple questions, then why do you want to invest time with people that might not be a good place for your frequency when you turn into your radio dial? If you’re choosing 93.3 and this guy is the 93.0, then you can quickly pre-qualify clients to see if they’re a good fit or not, which will also eliminate having to say no to those people down the road when it gets time to invest with your services and has to tell them no. Denise and I are all about creating more efficiencies for you and saving time because the time you don’t get back and also time is your most valuable asset. There’s nothing more valuable than your time. Keep that in mind.

AA 37 | Clients With No Budget

Clients With No Budget: By getting clear on who you want and who that destination client is, you’ll be prepared to make sure that’s somebody you want to work with.


Your time and your knowledge.

You don’t ever want to give out your knowledge for free either because that knowledge is your inventory and is precious. Let’s say you have to say no to a client. They don’t meet your budget and they’re never going to be a good fit or maybe they’ll be a good fit in the future. It’s always good to refer them out to somebody. You don’t want to leave them hanging I call that. I don’t know how you can relate that, Denise, to your frequency and your ways or GPS analogy, but I like to say how would you want to be treated from somebody?

Thinking about it from that point of view because you want to refer them out to someone who can service them, even if it’s H&R Block, whatever or the tax republic people. I don’t know what they’re called but they’re cheap. Even if that is your end resort, send them there because at least they’ll get serviced and they feel like you’ve taken care of them because people want to be cared for and it will help you in the future. They might be a great client for you in 1 or 2 years. You’ll never know.

It’s putting savings in your relationship bank. You’re storing up future relationships. You’re still giving value. You’re referring them to somebody else for that value because it’s not your value. You’re storing up in your bank and creating a relationship. When it is appropriate, they might be a fit for you or they might know someone and go, “You know that gal and that guy, they were nice. They took care of me. Maybe I’m not the right fit, but I know Joe. He has a business. It seems like that would be a good fit. I’m going to recommend them.”

It’s your relationship bank. It’s your piggy bank for relationships and your relationship is also the show. I want to say it was an honor to be here with each of you. Thank you all so much for reading.

Thank you all so much for joining me here on the show. Please also remember to hit that subscribe button and leave a written review and share with me how are you going to take your frequency to a different channel? What are you going to be typing into your GPS? If you are an accounting professional who sometimes worries about, where that next client is going to come from, you don’t want to work with those price shoppers or people who are asking you for a discount? Make sure to head on over to and get my Five Simple Steps process that accountants have used to go around from waiting for the busy season to getting those clients that they love. Those higher value clients that are happy to pay you those fees you deserve and who appreciate the work you do for them. Type in your email address and your name on the website. I’ll send it over to you for free. It’s a free guide. Thank you much for reading.

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