By Deb Calvert –
You’re meeting with the buyer for the first time when they hit you with the dreaded price question.
There are five potential responses.
First, you could dodge the topic. Many sales training programs advise sellers to never, ever, ever give a price until value has been established. This school of thought says to ignore price questions completely until you are ready to talk about “the investment required.” And, in most sales processes, price and negotiation come at the end. But according to HubSpot Research, that’s not when buyers want to talk about price.
Second, you could give a clever response such as, “At this point, we should be able to work something out for under one million dollars,” or“Would you ask your new doctor to give you a price quote on surgery before the initial exam begins?”
Third, you could explain the delay. This seems to be the most common response. Rather than giving a price, sellers say something like, “There are many options, and I need to understand your needs before I can give you an accurate quote.”
Fourth, you could offer a range based on average deal size or high and low price points. This response is meant to help the prospect without overpricing them.
Lastly, you could simply answer the question — right away, in a straightforward, no-more-mystery way. You could give an actual price quote even though value hasn’t been established and despite the fact that the steps in your sales process haven’t been completed. This is what buyers are asking you to do.
Why You Shouldn’t Postpone the Conversation
Buyers are becoming increasingly impatient and intolerant when it comes to price deflection tactics.
We worked with Santa Clara University to conduct a Qualtrics Panel Study with 530 verified B2B buyers. These buyers rated 30 selling behaviors as “highly favorable.” The number one most important?
“The seller fully answers my questions and provides information that is relevant, timely and useful.”
Buyers do not like seller stall tactics. They want an answer — an actual dollar figure — when they ask about price.
When price questions are not immediately answered, buyers get suspicious. They assume they will (eventually) be quoted an inflated price.
This suspicion makes them guarded. The more you withhold, the more they withhold. As you proceed with your needs analysis, you won’t get all the information you need to accurately quote price. They don’t want to equip you with information you can use to inflate the price.
In addition to being counterproductive, causing mistrust, and erecting a barrier between the buyer and seller, evading the price question is inefficient.
You won’t learn if you’re dealing with a comparison shopper or a prospect who truly can’t afford your solution. Furthermore, there are multiple decision makers in most B2B purchases. If you’re talking to one person in this initial meeting, you’re barely scratching the surface of needs and values. Your preliminary assessment will, at best, enable you to give a preliminary price quote. So why not save time and provide a preliminary price quote right at the start?
How to Talk About Price the Right Way
Since most sellers delay responding to the price question, you’ll immediately differentiate yourself by giving the direct response the buyer is requesting.
It also suggests you are tuned in to the buyer’s needs and unashamed of your prices. And the law of reciprocity will kick in: Because you were forthcoming with information, the buyer will be, too. You’ll get higher-quality information faster and can use what you learn to build even more value for this buyer.
To answer the price question right away while also building value, try one of these strategic responses. Use a direct, matter-of-fact, confident tone.
- Price + Question: “The preliminary price is $____ and that includes ______. What criteria, other than price, will you be using to make your final decision?”
- Price + Benefit: “The preliminary price is $____ for the ____ option. What this means to you is that you’ll have _________. How important is this benefit to you?”
- Price + Personalization: “The preliminary price is $____ for our _____ package. I’m thinking this is the right package for you because you _________. Let me ask you some additional questions to confirm that I’m on the right track.”
- Price + Urgency: “The preliminary price is $_______ and we can honor this special offer for 48 hours. I’m mentioning this because it sounds like price is important to you. What will the impact of this cost saving opportunity be on your decision-making process?”
- Price + Budget Check: “The preliminary price is $_____. Tell me how this sounds in terms of your budget and the prices you’ve heard from others.”
Notice that price comes first in each of these options. The buyer asked for price, and you immediately responded with price. Then, rather than debating the price, you’ve steered the conversation back to something related to value.
Notice as well the lack of hesitation, deflection, or apologetic language. Your confidence in the way you state your prices is every bit as important as the price itself.
Finally, notice the word “preliminary.” Unless your prices are absolutely fixed, use this word to signal that there may be some movement in price. Don’t make up a number or lowball the quote. Using “preliminary” is not license to play fast and loose with the true pricing.
As you respond to the price question, keep this in mind: No one asks about price unless they are interested in purchasing. Consider price questions to be buying signals rather than potential objections. Your prospect is interested and has gotten to the stage in their own buying process where they need pricing information. Let that knowledge guide your responses and accelerate the close.