Help Prospects Focus on Value First

In today's world of "I want it now," our customers are caught up in several "I want it nows."'

"I want an appointment now! they say. " I want your drawings now! I want it installed now! I want the price now!" Notice, though, that I didn't include, "Tell me about the benefits of your products and services now." Today's consumers just don't have the time to listen to you, or watch you demonstrate and prove the value in your offering.

So, what do you do?'

There is a way to work with the consumer who wants prices before knowledge. I believe you can improve your closing percentage and protect your gross margins by creating value before giving prices.

You need to ensure that you don't earn price objections by not doing a good job of creating value. If the customer asks early in your sales process what the price will be, try to deflect the question. Some suggest you act as if you don't hear it and stay focused on selling the benefits. Be sure to note that while this may work for you once, if you are asked a second time, ignoring the question might discourage the prospect.

When asked about the price, you might respond with a statement such as, "I appreciate you wanting to know the cost, but I can't be fair to you without getting some additional information. Will that be all right?" This disarms the price question by showing your desire to be fair to the customer. Since the customer almost always answers yes to this inquiry, it allows you to present more information before getting into a price discussion.

Following are some statements you may find beneficial when you want to defer disclosure of the price:

  • "Before we get to pricing, let me show you some design concepts in our newest display."
  • "I appreciate your question about the price, but why don't we first cover what type of budget you have been considering."
  • "Asking the price is a fair question. However, let me get a little further along with our design concept and product choice consideration that will save time for both of us. Then the information I pass on to you will be more accurate."

Still, there are times when, rather than dancing around the question of cost, the customer deserves to know. For example, the customer asks, "About how much would this cost?" as he or she is looking at a specific kitchen display. While your answer might be, "All of the cabinets in this display would require an investment of approximately $8,000," you must clarify your answer by adding, "however, that includes all of the moulding and the specialty cabinets. I believe you would enjoy some of the added benefits of these specialty cabinets." This allows you to keep selling.

The key to any selling situation is realizing that you're likely to be asked early on about the price. I suggest you prepare and practice an inventory of answers ahead of time so that you are not scrambling for responses.

Word power
It's also important to understand the power of words and their positive or negative impact when selling. The words "price" and "cost" have negative impact; I prefer using the word "investment." This term sounds even better if you can learn who else will benefit from a positive decision. "The investment you will be making for you and your family will be $X. Your decision to make this investment will be enjoyed by everyone for a long time."

Another word that infers expense is "dollars." Years ago, someone whose sales success I admired suggested that, when quoting an investment amount, you should say "it will run you 3,275," and not say "dollars." He believed the word "dollars" gives a negative connotation and that we are conditioned to the idea that it means spending.

Words mean a lot; proper word usage will positively impact the prospect's buying emotions and decision-making process. So, when choosing your words, think about what you're trying to accomplish. First, you don't want your word usage to scare a customer away.'

One day when I was "pretend shopping," I inquired about one of the major brands of solid surface tops displayed. When I asked what it would cost, the department attendant replied, "I don't think you'll be interested because it's awfully expensive." Obviously, this statement will ruin your opportunity to have the prospect listen and understand your product's benefits.

Second, before disclosing the amount of the investment, be sure you've done your best to cover the benefits to be gained of owning the products being offered.'

There's a risk that in deferring to answer until you have built value, your prospect won't be patient enough to hear you through. But if the prospect can't give you that time, it could be the prospect hasn't been properly qualified and isn't a match to become your customer.'

However, part of the customer's impatient attitude could be your fault if you lack the necessary depth of industry knowledge, are not prepared, or frankly, don't have any passion about your work or products. The prospect could be getting a perspective of the biggest sale killer indifference by you.'

If you have the passion, knowledge and skills about your offering, the prospect will want to hear you out and participate in developing the value he or she is looking for. This will help assure the person that he or she is making the right decision.

Finally, make the decision-maker out to be a hero. Tell the person that others will approve of the decision and how the decision is important because it will last a long time. Convince the customer that he or she would want to be fully informed before making this important decision, knowing a right decision will bring compliments from friends, neighbors and family.

All of this will require a conscious effort on your part the next time you're asked to reveal a price before you've built value. However, it's up to you to create your advantage and wait until you have completed your presentation. When you try to close a sale without giving your best shot of building value, it's more likely that you'll receive price objections. Test your skill with your next customer and keep selling until you've matched your offering with the prospect's needs, wants, desires and expectations. Then, give them the investment requirement.

Selling is a very flexible process. You must have your selling-skills antennae up and be sensitive to your prospect. Ask the right questions and give the right answers. Not only will you be pleased with the results your customer will be pleased, also.