Many of the older, outdated sales approaches forbid salespeople from answering questions about price. These approaches relied on a B2B sales process that directed salespeople to avoid answering a prospective client's questions. This stemmed from fear. The idea was that by withholding information, including the salesperson's insights and their experiences, prevent the contact from running off and buying from a competitor. This is one reason sales is broken.
Here at the home of One-Up Sales, we don't sell on our back foot. Instead, we sell on our front foot, fearlessly engaging with our decision-makers in a sales conversation that improves their results. With the right sales strategies and tactics, you can handle any sales conversation, even an early one about your price.
Why You Are Afraid of Your Price
Salespeople fear losing because of their price. They believe that unless they can get through discovery, they can't talk about money. They mistakenly believe that asking a contact about their problem and their pain points might allow them to justify their pricing. Those old, outdated, One-Down questions will not cause your potential client to spend more money. To position your pricing, you are better off using a set of value-creation strategies that cause your prospects to prefer to buy from you.
In competitive selling scenarios, sales reps believe their competitors’ lower price will be more attractive to prospective buyers. In reality, only a small number of large clients in every industry truly need the lowest price. That results from their business model. A much larger number of companies have leaders who can't afford to accept a lower price and still deliver for their clients and customers. Having experienced the undisclosed concessions that come with a lower price, many leaders would rather pay more and succeed than save a few dollars and fail their customers.
How Much Is This Going to Cost?
Your prospective client is interested in buying your products or services. You are building rapport with a qualified lead with the exact pain points your offerings address. When your contact asks, "How much is this going to cost?" You hedge, responding, "I'll need to ask you some questions before I can tell you what it will cost."
Answering the question this way causes two unfortunate outcomes. The first is the client believes the offering is more expensive than it actually is, or that you will try to take advantage of them. The second unfortunate outcome is that you no longer look, sound, or feel like a trusted advisor. Business consultants disclose the investment their clients will need to make to get the results they want. This is how salespeople should approach conversations about price.
There is also a certain type of salesperson who looks at the price of their potential solutions as if they were spending their own money. Their beliefs about the scarcity of money prevents them from sharing a number with three commas. In B2B sales, your contact is not writing you a personal check from their bank account. The decision-maker is spending the company's money, money they intend to spend.
One company I know was taught to avoid talking about price with their B2B customers until they completed their discovery process. When these salespeople were asked if they could do something about the price, they confessed that the price was firmly set. This sales force was taught that the price might chase prospective clients away. In reality, buyers fled because the price was so far beyond their expectations. Discussing price earlier allows a salesperson to provide context their contacts need to have a knowledgeable conversation.
Why You Should Address Your Prospective Client's Questions About Price
Being evasive will destroy your B2B buyer's trust. All B2B sales teams should sell using this rule: The truth at any price, even the price of the deal. It's better to lose a deal by telling the client the truth than to close a deal by lying.
When I was a sales rep at a staffing company, I discovered that my competition would lie to win a deal. They would tell my clients that they would have the right number of employees every day, and that they wouldn't have any no-shows, people that agree to work but don’t show up. When I discovered the promise they made, I used it against them, telling my clients anyone who says you will not have "no-shows" is lying. I told them they would have no-shows every day, then I explained how we would deal with it.
I give you this anecdote because the truth is always better than a lie. This brings us to the idea that you can confidently disclose your pricing without fear. If you have a price higher than your competitors, you are better off disclosing it early in the sales conversation. By sharing the investment up front, you can spend the rest of the sales cycle justifying the higher price.
How to Address the Price Question before Discovery
B2B salespeople who want to be trusted advisors need only two things: trust and advice. Your candor and your transparency engender trust. By addressing the price question without delay, and without squirming in your chair and worrying about losing a deal, you occupy the One-Up position that allows you to educate your prospective client. Because I want you to succeed in sales, I will provide you with the talk track you can use without fear. But first, a One-Down approach:
Client: This sounds good. How much is this going to cost?
One-Down Salesperson: Um, uh, I am going to have to ask you some questions to determine the price.
Client: It must be expensive. I'm not sure we can afford this.
Let's look at a better strategy for addressing the price before you complete your discovery process:
Client: This sounds like what we need. How much is this going to cost?
One-Up Salesperson: Based on our conversation, it will be $300,000 to $450,000 over two years. It will depend on a couple of decisions we must make about how you need us to deliver the results.
Client: What are those decisions?
There is no reason to fear disclosing the investment before you finish the sales conversation. Using a reasonable guess of the range is enough to prove that you are not withholding the information. Being able to address questions about money as they come up makes you look confident about the investment you are asking your contact to make.
Why Are You More Expensive Than Your Competitors?
Earlier in this article, I mentioned that you can use the entire sales conversation to justify the difference between your price and your competitors’. The easiest way to do this is to explain how your company makes different and greater investments in delivering results for your clients and how it prevents the problems that come from underinvesting in the results.
Generally, people will spend more to acquire something better. Most sales organizations are not trying to be the low-price leader. That model is the most difficult to sustain of the available choices. You must pay less for everything you need, including your employees. You also need scale to make any real money. If low price was your business model, you'd have no reason not to disclose your price.
This is a sales enablement issue that requires salespeople to be trained to engage in these conversations. It's safe to say that your business model creates greater value than that of the lowest-priced provider. The more confidence you have that the investment your client makes will improve their results, the more confident you can be when sharing the price and the better outcomes your client needs.