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Sales strategy

I Just Need a Price!

Written by

Miles Valentine

How many times in a sales process do you hear this?

I was emailing a guy the other day promoting a sales course I’m running and his response on the first email was “What’s the price?” My response was; Lesson number one in sales - never talk price too early. In fact, never talk price until you (the seller) are ready. 

So when is that? It’s when you’ve developed some credibility and trust with the prospect, you understand what they need and want, you’ve re-iterated their needs (and they’ve agreed), you’ve presented your solution and justified it with a written Return on Investment calculation. That’s when you tell them the price – not before.

Frankly, if you hear this question too soon in the process, it should ring some alarm bells. It’s a bad sign, it’s an indicator the prospect thinks they have done their research and maybe even made their supplier choice, but needs a second or third price to make sure they are competitive.

Are you sure your salespeople are doing this? Not giving out the price too soon?

I was running a course recently and this question was the number one thing the group wanted to know. When do I tell them the price? How do I not tell them? What if that’s all they are asking?

So, let’s think about that. Firstly, unless you’re selling a commodity, I can’t see how you can give any prospect a price until you know some more about what they want or need. How many, how often, how big, what’s it for, etc?

I always remember being asked by a big metal fastener company in the US “how much per seat for your contact centre?”.  I told him I couldn’t tell him that until I’d asked him a few questions. He said, “Aw, come on, how much, it can’t be that hard”. I said it was. He insisted (getting frustrated with what he thought was my obstinance – and he was right!). So I said, “ok, how much for a box of nuts and bolts?” He started to ask what type of nuts and bolts and then he smiled and stopped. I’d made my point. He needed to know what I wanted them for and what type of nuts.

That’s a great way to defer the question, throw it back at the prospect in their own line of business – how much for a truck? How much for a software solution? How much for a print manager service? Of course they can’t answer until they know what you want.

Anyway, back to the story.

If someone is that focused on the price, you may need to ask yourself, do I really want to do business with this person/company? In my experience, the price-focused buyer is often the most painful and expensive to deal with, yet wants the cheapest price. They may be better off driving your competitor nuts – and not you.

If you can’t back them up to the qualification stage (to ask them the questions you need answers to) then you can’t give them a price. Chances are you’re just being used to compare, and you haven’t got a chance.

Another question for you. Is your company’s product or service the cheapest in the market?

I don’t think I’ve met anyone that says yes to this, so, again, why would you want to be leading with your price as the first, or even early conversation?

The only way a professional B2B salesperson can build up a price is by knowing what the customer wants, their values and needs, and the only way to do that is with a thorough qualification stage. Then you or your salesperson needs to build the confidence in the prospect that you can deliver by providing a professional, thorough sales process, including product presentation/references/objection handling etc, then give the price. Follow immediately with a reminder conversation about what benefits they are going to get (the “price sandwich” as Brian Tracy calls it).

At the point you give your price, your power shifts. The buyer now has all they need. But if you’ve gone through your sales process (by backing them up and then moving through the process) you’re now a contender - hopefully with your best foot forward.

If you gave that price out early, you were never a contender. Unless you’re the cheapest you never had a chance.

If you want to learn more about this, ping me at miles@indicator.co.nz or have a look at www.indicator.co.nz.

About Indicator

Indicator provides expert training and consulting for sales leaders and CEOs who want to transform their capability, performance and impact in the market – for their teams and organisations.

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