How To Lose on Price (Or: You Cannot Win a Fight With One Who Is Willing to Kill Himself)

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
August 10, 2010

I have made note here on my feeling about selling price. And here. And here. And here. The principle rule was, is, and always should be to create enough value for your dream client that you can capture some of the value for your company and for yourself.

This means that you are going to sometimes lose on price. Period.

You have to learn to live with that fact, even when it is painful to do so. You will sometimes lose on price even when you were the right choice. You will sometimes lose on price even when your competitor has no way of creating value because they have no way to make enough money to support a real solution. You will sometimes lose on price even when your dream client has bought a great, big, shiny lie.

In some fights, there is no way to win. If your competitor is willing to kill himself financially to win the deal, he is going to win the deal. You cannot win by chasing him to the bottom in a race to see which one of you is willing to kill yourself sooner and in the most horrific and brutal manner.

Worse still, you cannot win.

If your competitor is willing to go someplace that you cannot follow while still honoring the principle rule (create enough value that you can capture some for your company and yourself), then you simply cannot follow. To win at a price that would cause you to fail for your client, to produce less of a result than you know that your dream client needs, to produce a result that is less than you promised, or that leaves no way for you to capture any of the value that you create, then you have won nothing.

Instead you will have lost the time you could have spent working on a deal that would have produced results and value for your client and you. You will also have lost your integrity and your credibility by delivering a lesser result that will surely ruin your dream client’s experience of working with you (and producing an experience that they will likely share with others who ask).

How then do you handle these pricing contests? You handle them with class, with grace, and with confidence. You thank your dream client for their time. You let them know that you believe that your solution will produce a better result, and that you hope that if there decision doesn’t meet their expectations that you can reopen a dialogue about pursuing your solution. You wish them the best of luck, and you tell them that you are standing by at a moment’s notice to jump in with both feet and make a difference should they need you.

Then you move on. No gnashing of teeth. No wringing of hands.

But remember, the circle of life for those of us in sales begins with dissatisfaction. You get what you pay for, and the best solution and the best price are rarely found in the best offering (they are two different strategies). You stay close and you put this dream client right back on your nurture list while you work on developing the relationships you need to win your next dream client.


Sometimes your competitor will beat you on price. It hurts. But if winning means you can’t create the value you need to capture some for you and your company, go ahead and lose.


    1. How fast should you exit a pricing contest and why?
    1. How important is it to you to protect your integrity and your credibility? What happens to your delivery when you win an account that leaves no profit for your company? What kind of service do you deliver when you don’t profit from doing so?
    1. Look at your pipeline. Can you afford to lose any of the bid deal dream clients in your pipeline right now on price? What must you do (today!) to ensure that you can lose any of your opportunities and still have a successful quarter?
    1. How do you handle losing on price?
  1. How do you handle losing on price when you know that your competitor will fail, or is not being truthful with your dream client about what they are doing?

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Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 10, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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