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McDonell Consulting Group, LLC | Baltimore & Bel Air, MD
Many salespeople bail out long before they get thrown out. Do you ever wonder why so many salespeople leave a sales opportunity too early? Salespeople often enter a sales discussion worried about the inevitable money step. What will I say? What will I do? What if they don't like the price we are charging? What if they can't afford it? All these questions linger in the mind of the salesperson not only before, but during the sales presentation. It can often be the result of the salesperson's own mindset about money: "Is my product worth what I'm charging? Could I pay for it if I were in their shoes? Is this too expensive? Do my competitors offer something less expensive? Is my product any better?" These thoughts impact a salesperson in their work with a prospect. This doubt can often diminish the enthusiasm and excitement that a salesperson shows for their product or service. A good prospect can smell the fear and doubt in a salesperson's mind about their very own self-confidence, or their product, or their price. The salesperson that shows the least amount of doubt will be the most powerful. The mental part of the sales process is critical, but so is the salesperson's selling technique - the ability for the salesperson to understand the true pain and problems of their prospect and their understanding of how to uniquely solve those challenges for the prospect. That technique doesn't come automatically-it's practice, practice, practice, studying and more studying. It's understanding your product/service and its power, and also your own skill in managing a sales conversation. When we talk about technique, we are not talking about moves or tricky statements. Technique is the sense of putting the right things in the right place at the right time. Salespeople bail out because their mental focus is weak and their technique is poor. A professional selling technique reveals that when you talk about money to your prospect before there is a real understanding of what the problems are, money will seem out of place. It will be an uncomfortable feeling; it will be a difficult conversation. It would be no different than sitting down for dinner and asking for the check before you've ordered. When things are put in place, when things are orderly, when the salesperson really and truly understands their role and guides the conversation (technique), many of the pricing questions and challenges that occur in a sales conversation are never seen, never experienced, and for the best salespeople in the world, it is truly an engaging and fulfilling opportunity. Salespeople who understand the problems they solve and the real pain that they eliminate for their prospects move through the budget step in the easiest, most profitable manner. Recognizing that the mental aspects of a sale and the technique used is critical, I have provided some typical technique responses for you to consider when faced with the five most hated words in sales: "Your price is too high." These responses when used alone are not powerful. They are not tricks or moves. They are simple transition techniques, ways to go from where you are to where you need to be. They are not designed to shock or to challenge or to change the prospect's mind; they are simple transitions to help you go back to pain if there is a budget challenge or to really, truly understand what the prospect is trying to communicate when they say certain things. This is where your technique becomes critical. Watch, study, learn, practice, role play, read about your technique and particularly the technique of transitioning from pain to budget. Here are some examples to consider: 1. Prospect says, "Thanks for the information. Let me think about it and get back to you." Salesperson: • It's been my experience when one wants "to get back to me" they haven't shared everything with me and I have not answered their objections and really identified their true problems. Would you be willing to talk about that for a moment? • Let me ask you a tough question, and promise you won't get mad. Usually when people say they are going to get back to me, what that means is they are not really interested. Is that a fair statement? • When people say they'll get back to me, it usually means one of two things. They are out of time or they're not really interested. Share with me what you are really thinking. • I get a sense this isn't that important to you. 2. Prospect says, "I like what you guys can do, but I just cannot afford it at this time." Salesperson: • That makes sense. Have you considered how much it would cost to solve this problem if you waited another 3 years? • Share with me what you had in mind in terms of budget. • That makes sense. Let's talk about solving the biggest problems right now and leave the others for later. 3. Prospect says, "I want to do it, but price is going to be an issue for me." Salesperson: • John, tell me by not fixing this problem, what will this cost you in productivity? • I've heard this before. It isn't the budget, but there are usually other issues. • How strong is your commitment to fixing the issue? • Okay, let's go back and talk about this a little more. Maybe we can find a better way. • Off the record, what were you hoping to spend. • I understand. Price is always an issue. • Let's talk about what an investment like this gets us. • May I make a suggestion? If what we spend doesn't give us the return we want, it's probably not worth it - what kind of return makes this work? • Can we talk about what type of return we are getting when we spend this money? 4. Prospect says, "That's more than I had planned to spend. What can you do to get the price down?" Salesperson: • Off the record, John, what price were you hoping to spend? • If we waved a magic wand, what do we need to bring this in under? • Let's talk about that. Are there any other products or services we can add to qualify for a discount? • That makes sense. Let's talk about what we can eliminate to get it closer to your number. • Certainly we can. What part of the problem do you not want to fix now? 5. Prospect says, "I have three prices and I'm leaning toward you, but you got to work on your price for me." Salesperson: • That makes sense. We can get it down, but why were you leaning toward me? • If we can't get it down, is it over? • Who is the competition? 6. Prospect says, "At that price, what guarantees can you provide that your product or service will do what you say?" Salesperson: • Good question. What guarantees do you need? • That makes sense. If everything exceeded your expectation, what guarantees would you want? 7. Prospect says, "You are about twice the price of your competition." Salesperson: • So, does that mean it's over? • I knew you would be a tough negotiator. • Are they really our competitors? 8. Prospect says, "That sounds great. Can you send me a proposal and let me see what it costs?" Salesperson: • Absolutely. Let's say I did that. What would happen next? • Sure. What would you like to see in the proposal besides price? • Absolutely. My experience is that we only win about 30% of the proposals we send out. Let me talk about that first. It is critical that you identify, name and define the uniqueness of your solution. The pains that you solve using a solution that your competitors can also use is called a strength, and usually prospects determine the difference between strengths by getting to the lowest price. A strength that your competitors cannot duplicate, or don't know about, or are not as good at it as you are, is called a Dominant Competitive Advantage. By selling from your Dominant Competitive Advantages, they will not compare pricing. Identify your Dominant Competitive Advantages, get rid of the head trash and improve your technique, and you will be incredibly powerful-and you'll never bail out! Here are some additional responses for you to add to your technique-and don't worry, we don't have to talk price for these added extras. These are on the house. Is this the real issue? If you sensed we could provide significantly better ROI on every invested dollar over a less expensive option, would you want to continue to talk? Sounds like it's over. Is that a fair statement? Sounds like I've shocked you, and I take the blame for that. There's a lot you would have to be comfortable with to consider paying a price like that, I'm sure. I'm always a little uncomfortable in situations like this. May I make a suggestion .. how about if you give me a shot at working hard with you and your staff to establish our value in your eyes? Then when we have a final solution, I'll take you to lunch, we will set down to discuss it, and if by dessert we don't have an agreement we are both satisfied with, then we'll say it's probably not something we ought to try to work together on. John, when people say that to me, and you're not the first, I found they mean several things. It might mean they don't see the value; it might mean it's more than they have budgeted; and in other cases, it means other things. In your case, what do you mean? Other than price, what else are we considering as a part of the decision process here? They're a good firm. Tell me more about what you like about ABC Company? Thanks for your support. Let's begin and see what happens. Are you comfortable with talking about the other firms you are using or considering? I'm glad to work with you on that. Should we revisit your priorities? John, I appreciate the support you've shown me. Can you share with me who else has bid? Those are all good companies. So, if you take us out of the picture and you had to pick today, who are you leaning toward? If they had come to you to be a part of your customer counsel and advisory counsel, what would you tell them they could do to be better? John, companies focus on three things: ease of use, effectiveness and price. You can get two out of those three, but you can never get three out of three from anyone. It's a trade-off. What are you trading for with price? John, I knew you were a tough negotiator, but no one gets a better deal than you're getting here. John, what I usually hear when price gets on the table like this is that you don't believe it will work. Is that accurate? When you asked that, that reminds me of a story .. [and then tell the story]. If everything exceeded your expectations, what would you pay? Because we are higher, are you uncomfortable with that? What percentage of the time do you buy the cheapest and what percentage of the time do you buy more expensive?
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