If you’ve been in sales for any amount of time - you’re striving to be fearless.
You’re the type to knock down doors, make a hundred calls, strike up conversations with multiple strangers at networking events and work a crowded room full of C-Suite executives without breaking a sweat.
That is, until someone starts asking pricing questions.
The one thing that can strike fear into the heart of any salespeople - is talking about price.
Even the most seasoned of veterans can relate to that pang of anxiety you feel when it’s time to talk price.
The pricing conversation is crucial and necessary to the sales process. It’s really just another natural step in your prospect’s buyer journey. At some point they are going to want to know “how much?”
If the salesperson is nervous about talking price at this point, the prospect starts to feel like they are “getting sold to”. Suddenly both parties are hyper aware of the subtext and the prospect becomes wary of everything the salesperson has to say.
With the prospect potentially on the defensive, you start to wonder if you are getting accurate info from them - which can the lead to you wondering if they are really qualified to make a decision and do they have the budget for your services.
All of the questions start to plague both of your minds.
This triggers a chain reaction of self doubt and worrying about being too “salesy”. You might start thinking how you compare to your competitors. You start to question if your price is worth the value you can bring.
Your confidence can take a hit.
Before your answer, here's a question for you…
Who will dictate the pricing conversation?
You or the prospect?
If it’s the prospect then you have already lost control. You’ve been relegated to vendor status.
Let's get this straight right here and now: Your job is to add value and problem solve for the client, but YOU direct the sales conversation.
Price may be discussed at some point - but YOU direct when it will be discussed. This helps you, and more importantly it serves your client too. You’re taking the tension and awkwardness out of the situation for both parties.
Sales is hard enough without you giving up control of the conversation.
If you lose control of the conversation then it becomes near impossible to position yourself as a consultant rather than just a vendor taking an order.
If you are in the trenches having these conversations, or you manage a team struggling with talking price - this guide to steering pricing conversation is made for you and your team.
#1. Pricing Fear: It’s just too sensitive a subject to bring up and I don’t want to be seen as “salesy”
The saying - price only becomes an issue in the absence of value - holds true in all things.
It is your job to bring value. Demonstrate this value using proof points. Not just financially - but in your overall service offering.
If your prospect is sold on value - price becomes irrelevant. Remember, you are a problem solver and value creator. Not a hawker or a bartering vendor.
Author and Sales Coach, Anthony Iannarino explains why leading with your value propositions can make your pricing conversations run so much smoother:
“Make sure you highlight all of your differentiators to create enough value that even though your price may be higher, your results in fact generate a greater return for your client.”
When you use your differentiators, as Iannarino explains - you set yourself apart from your competitors.
Great salespeople differentiate with the intangibles. The commitment to excellence, to constantly improve, and to proactively support customers translates into commitment to serve the client and their business.
Find the absolute value you bring to the table, and communicate these non-monetary differentiators to help you take the pressure of the price tag.
#2. Pricing Fear: What if the customer asks about price at the beginning of the call before you’ve had the chance to demonstrate value?
You can answer the question with a question by first pointing out that pricing depends on their unique needs. Explain why costs may be dependent on volume, relevant tiers, different packages or other variables.
Make it clear you need some more info before you can give an accurate quote. Own the pricing conversation on your terms and get yourself a better understanding of their business, what they do, how they do it and why they do it to put together a thorough quote.
To give them a quote immediately would be letting them dictate the sales conversation (and building that awkward tension). If you are going to just give a quote upfront you have firmly placed yourself in the “just another vendor” category. You want to position yourself as an expert and a trusted adviser.
You could say “I don’t do blind quotes. The reason being, I need to see where you are now, and where you’d like to be, and that will give me a better idea of how I can help get you there before providing a more accurate quote.
That’s when you need to start making a connection with the prospect by asking the right questions at the right time to bring the conversation back under control.
#3. Pricing Fear: Bringing up pricing too early in the conversation - will it scare them off or make them resistant and defensive?
Price is important at two points as a prospect travels through your sales funnel:
First, properly qualified your prospect and you’ll know they have the budget to spend (and importantly) within the current sales cycle. This helps you lay the groundwork for the value you can add relative to their budget.
Prospects will put up resistance. You will face strong objections. But see this as an opportunity. Use you knowledge of the buyer’s psychology and take advantage of cognitive biases to keep the conversation neutral. You can turn objections into opportunities to focus on the specific needs of the prospect.
Human Behavior Coach, Beverly Flaxington has said when it comes to Understanding the Mind of the Buyer, sales reps need to:
“Resist the urge to ‘overcome objections’. When it comes to offering resistance, most people want someone to acknowledge their resistance—not barrel through it!
If a prospect gives the objection ‘There is too much going on here right now. I can’t even focus on this’, it’s not your role to show them how they can focus on it. It’s your role to understand what’s happening with them, respect it and see if it is a ‘movable’ obstacle or not.
You can only do this if you learn how to probe and operate with a true desire to understand the mind of your buyer.”
Put yourself on the same side of the table as your prospect. Listen to them, really hear what they are saying and take note of any resistance or potential obstacles they start putting up. Make sure you acknowledge and continue to ask probing questions until you get to the real issue. Then address it directly.
#4. Pricing Fear: What if we are more expensive than the competition? Or they say my price is too high?
I spoke with Mike Weinberg, The New Sales Coach and bestselling author of “Sales Management. Simplified.” Mike’s advice is simple:
“Be THANKFUL that you have a higher price because that equals job security. Why? Well, because if you have the lowest priced piece of junk then they wouldn’t need highly compensated salespeople to sell it now, would they?”
He also gives you some strategic advice to help you manage this situation effectively:
“Our job as professional sellers is to justify the difference between our premium price and the market price.”
If a prospect says your price is higher than the competitions, Weinberg says to respond with something along the lines of the following:
“I hope so! There are a number of reasons why we are, and that's why a number of (similar companies in their space, known names etc) have chosen to trust us with their business.”
That’s how you gather back control of the pricing conversation. You put yourself in a position to show your differentiators and display the value of your offering so you can prompt the prospect to reconsider their perspective.
When you control the conversation and don’t shy away from price - you portray confidence in your offering. The prospect will be impressed by what sets you and your company apart and how you bring value. If they still don’t have the budget - you can clean the lead from your pipeline knowing you’ve given it your absolute best.
When the prospect does have budget, if you’ve communicated the value of your offer - you’ll be the first number they call.
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