The Most Important Selling Skill

19 01 2008

For salespeople, there is a challenge that is tantalizing. And this is a challenge that cuts across all products, services, industries, price points and geography. Falling prey to it can also cause you to lose sales, profits and opportunities. And what is it?It is simply answering the premature price question. The one that invariably pops up early in your sales presentation. In fact, it occurs so early that you often have not had the opportunity to ask questions, present your product/service or sometimes even size up the situation. The jolting question often comes in a variety of forms. Let’s take a look at just a few:

  • “Could you give me a ballpark figure on the cost?”
  • “How much does something like that cost?”
  • “What do you think this would cost us?”

  • “I’m only interested in price – so how much is it?”

  • “I don’t want to talk about anything until you give me a price.  How much is it?”

All of these questions take a different form and structure. But in each case, the question is designed to accomplish the same goal: To determine price without investing too much time into learning about the product/service and its value, which relieves the prospect from having to invest any emotional capital into the possibility of becoming enamored with a product or service that could either be out of their comfort range with regard to price or something the prospect may believe he or she can’t afford.

What are your options? Basically there are only three and two of them are bad. You can:

  • Answer the question by presenting the price. That’s bad.
  • Ignore the question.  That’s bad, too (plus it’s ignorant)

Or

  • Defer the answer until you are prepared to present the price. That’s good…and, by far, your best option.

But how do you professionally and diligently defer the answer? Surprisingly, the strategy is really quite simple and logical. But before we discuss that, let’s look at why you need to defer it. Here it is:

In the absence of value every price will be perceived as being too high.

The result will be “fight or flight.” Your prospect will either feel the price is too high and prepare for negotiated combat or simply feel that the price is outlandish and prepare to leave!

On the other hand, in the rare cases where your price is always perceived as being too low, you need to evaluate factors to include:

  • Is a salesperson really necessary to sell low-priced objects (maybe you should be replaced with a vending machine. It’s cheaper!)
  • In the absence of any resistance, perhaps your product should be priced more aggressively.

Sales is a combination of strategy (why to do things) and tactics (how to do them). And the tactics center around the correct and specific choice of words to use.

In this case, you have several choices of both. Let’s look at some of the options:

  1. “We have a full range of prices based on what you’re trying to accomplish. Let me help you narrow your choices and then will look at prices.”
  2. “I could give you a price, but it might be misleading. Let me ask you a few questions to be sure I understand exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, then let’s look at price.”

  3. No matter what the price, this could be the most expensive mistake you ever make if it is not right for you. Let’s make sure that you make the right choice, then let’s talk about price.”

  4. “We have a full range of prices from ‘x'(low) to ‘y’ (high). You’ll likely fall somewhere in between. I need to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve, then I can help you select the right product, price and direction.”

The bottom line is that in each case, you are trying to defer the price issue so you can correctly recommend the exact product or service, build value and present your price only as related to (a) the correctly recommended product and (b) the value it brings to your prospect.

There are few sales issues that carry more valuable weight then learning precisely why and exactly how to defer and then correctly present price. This skill alone will help you maximize margins and increase sales. Try it. You’ll like it.


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