Published by : Paul E. Lafleur
Price conversations are the Achilles heel of many salespeople. Not only are they uncomfortable broaching the subject, but many are also unable to change the subject once it comes up.
To help transition out of a pricing conversation, it’s important to understand why it came up in the first place.
Are you skirting around the issue ?
Whatever you’re selling, you want to :
- Offer a solution to a current problem ;
- Offer a solution to a problem which may come up in the future, i.e. insurance against a problem ;
- Offer a feature which will simplify a process.
Pricing should never be an issue if the sales rep has identified a real problem and has offered a valuable and practical solution to this problem.
Indeed, pricing conversations come up if the rep has failed to identify the real problems. Why would a prospect buy from you if you haven’t identified any obvious compelling reasons to buy ? The prospect will use pricing as an objection, as opposed to a negotiation. They might get you to offer a discount, then turn around and refuse your better offer.
To stop this from happening, the rep must become consultative and steer the conversation towards value instead of pricing, and discover the prospect’s compelling reasons to buy.
Uncover the gold mine through open-ended questions
Use open-ended questions to regain control of the conversation. These questions will reassure the client that you are in fact trying to identify the compelling reasons, as opposed to negotiate with them.
When you do reveal the compelling reason, pricing won’t be an issue, because the client will understand that what they’re buying is an investment. An investment towards the achievement of the compelling reason.
Bring the prospect to the realization that they’re investing in value. A conversation based on value rather than pricing impacts the mentality of the prospect. Are they investing in quality and longevity ? When you’ve put these 2 elements to the forefront, pricing ceases to be the priority.
Agree to disagree
If you’re attempting to steer the conversation away from pricing and the prospect keeps bringing it back up, it’s time to be assertive. Establish the reasons for the pricing, such as its value and quality, and if the prospect still refuses to go with you, then let them go.
When sales reps get stuck in a pricing conversation, it’s sometimes the client’s fault. They might be playing with you !
All this is fine and well for new prospects. You’re starting your relationship with a clean slate. Bring your sales competencies and DNA to the game. Once again, if you focus on value rather than pricing, you won’t get stuck in a pricing conversation.
Can you change the nature of your relationship ?
But what about the client you’ve been doing business with for 5 years ? How do you suddenly change the conversation if you have a background of selling on pricing with this client ?
This is a very difficult process. You basically need to start the whole sales process over, from scratch. You need to ask your open-ended questions, you need to reveal the compelling reasons to buy. You need to rebuild the relationship, based on value. There are no steps which you can skip that will get you straight to the value part of the conversation. You must start from the very beginning.
Switching from price to value selling with an established client is like renovating your house. You’ll discover a whole bunch of issues which you had no idea existed in the first place. Issues which both you and the client were unaware of.
It will be no easy task. The client might be insulted in the sudden change of approach. The relationship might be damaged. If you can't re-establish trust, you must respectfully let the client walk away.
As a sales representative, your job is to convince your client of the value behind the commodity. Is there value in the service ? In the expertise ? The value isn’t only in the product, it’s in everything that comes with it. At least, it should be.
Pricing often rears its ugly head when salespeople fail to be consultative. To avoid being stuck in a pricing conversation, a salesperson must make use of their sales DNA and through consultative selling, switch the focus from pricing, unto value !