Selling To People Who “Can’t Afford It”


the blog

by sarah elrod

Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Are you tired of getting inquiries from people who say they “can’t afford it” when talking about your services and products?

It really doesn’t matter what stage of business you are in or how much your products or services are. There is always going to be a group of people who cannot afford what you have to offer. If you could see me right now I am totally holding up air quotes around “can’t afford you”.

The fact of the matter is, most people are quick to say they cannot afford something but then go out and spend money eating out every night and buying drinks with friends, and well, you get the idea. 

Now, are there people who genuinely cannot afford certain things, sure! But most of those people probably wouldn’t even be inquiring with you if they were on that tight of a budget. 

I remember feeling totally discouraged when I was a new photographer and I was charging pennies on the dollar compared to what others were charging for a photoshoot and I was STILL having people turn away saying I was too expensive. It made me question everything I was doing, and that maybe I just wasn’t good enough. 


The truth is, not having money is just a frame of mind. Many people think they cannot afford something but in reality, their priorities are just not with you. Some people would rather have Netflix, Hulu, Paramount+, and Disney+ than they would pay for your offer. They value something else over what you are selling. And it’s your job to either convince them otherwise OR decide that they just are not the client for you and move on. 

Money is actually such an interesting topic and a very sensitive one at that too. I have always had a weird relationship with money growing up to the point of it being unhealthy.

I spent so much time hoarding my money in a savings account when I could have been investing it and turning it into more money or more value. 

There is a saying that goes “scared money doesn’t make money” and it’s very true. Many people are really afraid of investing in their businesses or themselves because they are afraid they will not make the investment back. And sure, there are risks with everything, but it is your job as the person trying to make the sale to prove to them why their investment would be worth it in the long run. 

You cannot always expect them to just figure it out on their own. 


When someone says they cannot afford your product or services you really have 2 options at that point. Accept it and move on or call them out. Obviously the second option is a bit more aggressive but it can lead to you closing the sale. It also can be done indirectly to the people who haven’t yet inquired but are already telling themselves that they cannot afford you. 

Propose a question to them. Ask them what they would have to give up each month in order to afford your product or services. If you are a personal trainer and you charge $100 per month to coach someone to lose weight, and someone is spending $200+ per month eating out on the weekends, call them out for that. 


Speaking of sales, the real truth is, in order for people to understand that they actually CAN afford you if they really wanted to, you need to start focusing on your promise to them and less on making them just another sale. If you could genuinely promise someone that you could teach them how to make their investment back plus more in 30 days, why would they not take you up on it?

Selling is really just about solving problems which is why you should never feel guilty about doing it. I’ve heard a lot of business owners say they feel bad trying to convince people to buy from them when they are told they cannot afford it. But all that tells me is that you are not confident enough in what you are actually selling.

If you REALLY believed with your whole heart and soul that your product or service could change someone’s life, you would have no issue telling them about it and doing whatever you could to help them see the value in it too. 

A little tactic to try would be to turn the tables on someone and use their own words against them. Again, this is not mean or sleazy… it’s just holding someone accountable to the things that they said they wanted. 


On the flip side, sometimes it can be useful to use a little bit of reverse psychology and make the opportunity cost really clear to them. In other words, what is it costing them to NOT invest with you today? 

If you offer some kind of service for a limited time, or maybe only a few times per year then they need to know what they are missing out on. Let’s say you sell an online course twice a year and someone says they are going to purchase it the next go around. But what would they have been able to accomplish in the 6 month period between launches?

How much money will they NOT make between now and then? How much value and information are they left guessing on because they chose to wait and “play it safe”?

You are using THEIR desires to give back to them inside of your program or service as a value add. 



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I'm Sarah Elrod

The Podcast

Rural Lifestyle



I'm a Cowgirl turned serial entrepreneur.
I'm a horse trainer, western wedding photographer, business coach and ranch wife.
I help women in the western industry grow thriving businesses from rural America.
When I am not strategizing new marketing tactics, you will find me riding my horses, cuddling my cattle dog, or kissing my hot husband.
There is also a good chance I am buying way too many outfits from western boutiques.

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