Price is the broken record many salespeople wish would stop playing. Problem is the same salespeople are often the ones hitting the play button without even realizing it.
I want to focus on one strategy salespeople at all levels use from time to time to head off the “price issue,” though it plagues newer reps the most. We’re obviously selling in a very competitive environment. On top of that, you know the odds are high that price will enter the conversation with your prospect sooner or later. And maybe you’ve been on the losing end of that more than you’d like. So after finally getting through to a decision maker — or someone who has influence over the ordering process — after weeks or months of prospecting, you quickly ask this question: “Can I get a few months of invoices to see what kind of pricing you’re getting?”
Why? Who cares what kind of price they’re getting at this point? Knowing the price they’re paying is far less valuable than knowing what they value, what makes their business tick, and what problems they might be having that you can solve.
Stop asking what they’re paying and start asking questions that will actually help you find ways to create value they are willing to pay for:
- Are there better results or outcomes you’d like to see in your business?
- What matters to you?
- What’s really important?
- What strategies or tactics are you struggling to execute?
- Are there gaps in your business you’d like to address in the next six to 12 months?
When you ask about price or invoices early in the process, you are essentially saying:
“Listen, I know this is going to come down to price and I’m not sure I can create enough value for you to care about anything other than the bottom line, so if you just give me some invoices I’ll see if I can sell it to you cheaper. If I can, I hope you’ll buy from me. But I also know that as soon as someone else comes in with a better offer you’ll probably start buying from him instead. At that point, I’ll see if I can go lower.”
This isn’t selling. It’s not competing. It’s not why you got into sales. And don’t try to convince yourself that this is “just a strategy to get your foot in the door” and you’ll worry about increasing your margin later. That almost never happens.
Learning to create tangible and sustainable value is the only way to consistently acquire new clients, sell at good margins, and increase client loyalty and engagement.
When you choose price as the starting (and ending) point, you give your client no choice but to do the same.
MENTOR September 2016;7(09):5.