posted on October 27, 2009
"I sell for a small business and sometimes when a client asks me for a price they tell me that they are going to give their current vendor the right of first refusal. To me it should be illegal to give out my pricing to another competitor - any advice?"
Amy, salespeople around the globe just stood up and cheered you. They've already begun writing to their governments asking that a law be passed making in illegal for prospects to use the prices we give them to get better deals from their incumbent vendors. Of course the Purchasing Managers Association, which closely monitors SalesGravy.com
, is at this very moment deploying lobbyists to make sure this legislation never passes.
That's a little bit tongue-in-cheek but as long as there have been salespeople willing to hand over pricing there have been customers willing to use that pricing to get a better deal from their incumbent vendors. At least your prospects are honest enough to tell you upfront that they are just using you. I know this is hard to come to grips with but it's just business and until you get burned enough to stop just handing your prices over you'll keep on doing it.
But perhaps, because you took time to write me, you are ready go cold turkey. If you are then raise your right hand and repeat after me:
I will not give prices to unqualified prospects.
I will not give prices to prospects unless I have provided them with a reason to do business with me other than price.
I will not give prices to prospects who are happy with their current situation unless and until I've shown them why they should be unhappy.
It's easy to give a price and it is just as easy to beat a price. If a potential client calls you and asks for a price and you give it to them and they show it to their incumbent vendor your chance of winning the sale is likely less than 1%. In fact you might have better odds playing the lottery. In sales you just can't win by giving up price. You can win though by holding back price.
When prospects call you looking for price it is because they need that price for something. If you call them and they ask for price it is because they are disqualifying you. In either case if you give them the price you lose. The key is to use price as leverage to gain information that will allow you to make a strong case for doing business with your company.
The essence of professional sales is uncovering problems and providing solutions to those problems. So the first thing to do when someone asks you for price is qualify them to ensure that they will engage and allow you to look for and uncover problems. Just say, "I will be happy to quote a price for you. However, we specialize in building customized solutions that meet our clients' business needs so before I can give you a price I need to find out more about you. May I ask a few questions?" This is the moment where the rubber will hit the road. The prospect will either say yes and set an appointment with you to go over their current situation and needs, or tell you they don't have time and just want a price.
In the latter scenario whatever you do resist the urge to give them prices. If you are tempted just repeat the oath you took earlier: "I will not give prices to unqualified prospects. I will not give prices to prospects unless I have provided them with a reason to do business with me other than price. I will not give prices to prospects who are happy with their current situation unless and until I've shown them why they should be unhappy."
Instead simply say, "Before I can give you a price I really need to get to know you and your company better. It won't take much of your time. We just need to go over your current situation, understand what is working and not working, and determine if it makes sense for us to move forward. It sounds like you are busy so let's schedule an appointment for a time more convenient for you?"
This says to the prospect that you are a professional and you care about their business. It also sends a message, "If you want what I've got - my price - you are going to have to give something back in return." In most cases you will be able to convert the prospect into an appointment which will allow you to thoroughly qualify them and get an understanding of their problems. And once you do that you will stand a much better chance of getting a deal done.
However, if they still insist on getting a price gather up your courage and your self-respect and refuse. Just say, "If you are just looking for price we are really not the company for you. Our focus is on crafting real solutions to our clients' problems and developing long term, mutually beneficial relationships." You'll likely hear stammering disbelief from your prospect while at the same time feeling much better about yourself because you maintained your integrity as a Sales Professional.
Jeb Blout, CEO SalesGravy.com