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Zeroing in on Needs Before Providing a Price

When the Customer Starts with Price

Some customers want to finish a sales call before it even gets started.

“Thanks for calling back.  Listen… I just want to know how much a programmer costs an hour.”

“Listen, I’m not interested in a sales pitch.  What’s the bottom line?”

“I just had a quick question… how much is the data monitoring subscription service?”

If you answer those questions with a price, you’ve lost. Customers who focus solely on the bottom line often haven’t thought out the full implications of their question.  They’re asking for a small part of the big picture. As sales professionals, you need to put the brakes on those questions in order to answer them properly and accurately.

Why is it important not to answer the price question straight off the bat?

· You May Be Quoting the Wrong Price – if you throw out a price, chances are it will be the wrong price.  How many does the customer want?  What model?  What are their challenges?  When do they need them?  Do they want options?  If you don’t have the right background information and just throw out a number, chances are you’ll be providing inaccurate data.

· You May Have Given Them a Reason Not to Choose You – Let’s say the product is the most effective product ever made in the industry.  It easily outperforms the competition and allows construction projects to complete ahead of schedule 9 out of 10 times.  Yet, the customer may hear a price before knowing those benefits and immediately think, “wow, that’s too expensive!?”  When you start with price, you usually end with price.  Not knowing the reasoning behind the price usually equips your customer with a reason to say, “No, thanks!”

· You May Not See the Big Picture – Often, a customer may contact you regarding a product thinking you can only meet one of their requirements. They may be interested in a much larger set of requirements, many of which you can meet. Without the appropriate data, you might be missing out on a much bigger opportunity. At the same time, the customer may not choose you because they think you’re a “one-trick pony”. 

· They May be the Wrong Person – Ask a few questions about the business issues that are driving the need for a purchase.  Find out how a service needs to be provided.  Ask about budgets and payment requirements.  Soon, after hearing “I don’t know” half-a-dozen times, you’ll realize you’re talking to the wrong person.  Those who ask for price without wanting additional information are often “tire kickers” or information gatherers.  They do the digging but don’t have any authority to make a decision

· You May be Dealing with a Devious Caller – Acme Dynamite may be a real company.  It may not be. Once in a blue moon, the call you’re receiving from Acme Dynamite may be a competitor – a coyote in roadrunner’s clothing. Answer the question without digging a little deeper and you might be lighting Acme’s fuse. Before you know it, the call will blow up in your face now that a major competitor knows your pricing structure

How can this be done?  Here are a couple of examples…

“Before I provide you with a price, do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

“I would be glad to help with pricing but I want to make sure I have a bit of information from you.  I want to make sure that I don’t quote you a price that is too high.”

“I can tell you about the cost of the subscription service but I want to make sure we’re talking about the same service.  Can I ask you a couple of quick questions?”

That strategy works quite well and most customers will allow you to ask a few questions.  Granted, you may need to ask a dozen questions but getting permission for a couple is the first step. 

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