The root cause of nearly all the price objections is not creating enough value in the sales conversation, while also failing to differentiate what you sell. When this is true, you are inviting price objections like the following.
- You are going to need to sharpen your pencil.
- Your competitor's price is 8% less than yours.
- You are our first choice, but you'll need to lower your price.
- Can you help me out here and give me a better deal?
- You have the highest price of the four companies we are considering.
The first objection on this list is not really an objection. It's a negotiation at best, a demand at worst. The second objection is an observation or a complaint. The third is a negotiation or a demand. The fourth is the conflict-averse person's way of asking for a price concession. The fifth is a compliment, as it proves you have pricing power, which means you produce better results.
Overcoming Price Objections
There is a certain principle that, if you adopt it, will help you become a better and more effective salesperson. That principle is to recognize that any problem you have is better addressed proactively and before it makes things difficult.
As soon as you hear one of the price objections above, you may go from being on your front foot, creating value, to a defensive crouch, hoping to withstand the blow. There is a better approach to overcoming price objections. The two strategies below will help you avoid price objections and position you to deal with one.
Disclose Your Higher Price Early
There is a major mistake that salespeople make when it comes to pricing. It is one of the reasons some salespeople receive price objections. For as long as I can remember, salespeople have been taught to wait to disclose their higher price until they have created enough value around what they sell. This is a poor strategy and an enormous mistake.
The better play is to work to avoid having to overcome a price objection by disclosing your higher price early in the conversation. The advantage of this approach is that by positioning what you sell as worth more, you can use the whole sales conversation to prove that your model and results are greater than your competitors.
As you explain your company's investments to improve your client's results, you justify the delta between your price and your competitor's lower price. If you wait to deploy this strategy until after your client voices a price objection, it will be nearly impossible to prove your value.
Salespeople who are afraid that their miserly prospect isn’t going to pay a higher price have nothing to worry about. They are going to get a price objection no matter what.
It’s an unfortunate truth that B2B salespeople don’t recognize that the role of a consultative salesperson is that of a business advisor. Instead, most believe they are supposed to find a problem and explain how what they sell will solve it. That approach was quite effective in the 19th and 20th centuries, but it isn’t nearly as effective in the 21st century.
"Today, you are consultative or you struggle."
One way to stave off a price objection is to educate your client on the decision they are making by differentiating your model from those of your competitors. This allows you to justify the higher price by directly comparing it to your competitors’ offerings. This is triangulation strategy. To execute this One-Up strategy, you explain that there are three or four different models that companies in your industry use to deliver their results.
The easiest way to pursue this objection-obliterating tactic is to start with the low-price model (there’s one in every industry). First, explain the advantages of the lower price, then follow with the concessions the client is going to be forced to accept when they buy from any company that uses this low-price model.
You can do this for every competitor model, but to ensure you understand the strategy, we’ll look at the highest-priced competitor. What’s good about their model is that they produce excellent results, but because they are so large, a lot of what you pay goes to their marketing budget, their plush corporate offices, and their many locations, only one of which will be working with you.
This is a bit of a Goldilocks example—too hot, too cold, just right. By triangulating the different models, you have explained the concessions your client is going to face when they are tempted to go with the competitor that’s offering a price eight percent lower than yours.
You can find a full explanation of triangulation strategy in Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative, where I have given this a more complete treatment.
Overcoming Price Objections
Every one of the objections at the top of this article provides with a decision to defend the investment and/or negotiate.
You can say something like, "This investment is exactly the right way to ensure you get the better results you need without the risk of under-investing and having to experience the problems that come with that. This is a fair price; any lower price means your supplier isn't going to make the necessary investments to produce the results you need. We'll take great care of you and ensure you succeed.”
You might also decide to negotiate, starting with something like, "I can lower the price by 4 percent, but to do that, I need to add 18 months to the contract. I'll send you another contract with the lower price and longer term."
My favorite rebuttal to a price objection is the one I use when a client says that my price is the highest they've seen. It offers you the chance to say,
"That's always true. It's how we make the investments no one else makes.”