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Learning to Say No

Sometimes you can’t give your dream client what they want. Sometimes they want an outcome that requires that your price is simply going to be higher than your competitors. The outcome is also going to be greater than your competitors; that is what they are paying more to obtain.

No matter how well you do in shifting from the price to the value of the outcomes you will produce, some of your prospective clients are going to still decide based on price alone.

When you can’t get them the outcome at that price, you have to say no.

Why They Called You About Price

If your dream client called you to tell you that they really want to do business with you but that they were disappointed with your price, it is because you did a good job understanding their needs, capturing their vision, and building a solution that they are convinced will help them achieve the outcome that they need.

They are disappointed because they understand that your solution is superior to your competitors, and they know that it is what is necessary to realize their vision–they just can’t (or won’t) pay what it takes to get that outcome. Your job in sales is to help them find a way to pay what it takes to get that outcome, if you can.

You have to deal with the real issues.

Dealing with the Real Issues

There are some real issues here that need to be addressed.

First, you may have built the right solution, and you may have sold your contacts, but you may have not provided them with what they need to sell the solution internally. You have some choices here. You can help arm them to make the sale internally. Or, better still, you can go in and present your case to the members of their team who don’t understand the difference between and price and cost (you may be a better salesperson).

If you can’t help them sell the solution in their organization, and if you have to lower your price to the point where you can’t get them the outcome to obtain their business, you have to say no.

Second, your dream client may have financial constraints that prevent them from being able to pay what they need to in order to get the result. Sometimes this is the client’s reality; they simply need more than they can afford. You can negotiate to deliver something less than your original solution and lower your price accordingly.

The risk here is that they may still hold you accountable to your original solution.

But, if you can’t agree to different outcome at a different price, you have to say no.

Third, your client may really want more than you–or anyone else–can deliver. There are some prospective clients that want perfect, immediate, and lowest price. Regardless of how good you are (and I know that you believe deeply), you aren’t that good. Something in this equation isn’t going to be delivered. Your client may still believe the fairy tale that there is some vendor who is going to ride in on a magic unicorn and deliver them their dreams for the lowest price, but it isn’t true.

You don’t have a magic unicorn, so you have to say no to lowering your price to get the business.

You don’t always have to say no. You should try to help your client sell your initiative internally. You should try to help them overcome the financial constraints. But if lowering your price means you can’t deliver what you promise, then you have to learn to say no.

Questions

When is it necessary to refuse a client’s business?

When is it not necessary but is instead important to refuse your dream client’s business?

How do you help your prospective client sell your initiative internally?

How do you help them to design a solution that gets them a better outcome, taking into account their financial constraints?

How do you help them decide what is really important as they make their decisions?


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Comments

comments

  • Robert

    A salesperson should say no to a client when the client’s demands are either outrageous or exceed the salesperson’s ability to deliver on them. In addition, no salesperson should sell anything which she deems not in the best interest of the client. Beyond that, when a salesperson can walk away from a bad deal–either for herself or the client–the balance of power shifts in favor of the salesperson.

    • http://www.thesalesblog.com S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts here, Robert! I agree that no salesperson should sell something that isn’t in the client’s interest!

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