You will inevitably run into clients who, as Oscar Wilde described the cynic, “knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” These prospective clients view everything through the narrowest possible lens, believing that a lower price is value. Of course, you can avoid those prospects who are blind to the real value you create, but what fun would that be? If you are in sales, you are a combative diplomat, so why not argue your case and teach the stubborn clients who cling to the lowest price? Here is how you might teach your prospective client to recognize real value.
Make Them Walk Backward
One of the reasons your contact can refuse to make the appropriate investment for the result they need is that too many salespeople present themselves in a way that allows the client to commoditize them. If you look, sound, and act like all the salespeople they’ve met with and bought from in the past, you aren’t going to have an easy time changing their approach.
If you want a different result, you have to feel different. Instead of starting the conversation where your competitors begin, you mix things up and start at the end and make them walk backward. You start with the strategic outcome your client wants or needs instead of your traditional discovery. To prevent them from dragging you down into a transactional conversation, you begin with a theory as to the better results they need.
Because you have clients who appreciate the value you create for them, you know—or should know—the strategic outcomes your prospective clients should be pursuing. By asking, “What have you changed over the last twelve months to improve your results in (strategic outcome), and what changes are you committed to over the next twelve months?”
Any path back to product or service or solution needs to start at the end. Either your prospective clients has already begun to work on those outcomes, in which case, you are going to speak to the fact they are pursuing the very outcome you intend to help them with, or they haven’t done anything, which allows you to ask how it would help them to produce better results in that area. Heads I win, tails you lose.
Test Their Commitment to Price
What follows here is heresy to salespeople who believe they lose on price. If you believe your higher price is a weapon and not a liability, you know you can lead with your higher price. It’s a powerful position to maintain. You can address cost early in the conversation that tests their commitment to a lower price. That question sounds like, “If you could improve those results, would it make sense to invest a little more in getting those results?”
There is nowhere in the Universe where one can find better, faster, and cheaper. If you want better or faster, it is going to cost more. If you want both better and faster, it’s going to be a lot more expensive. It is challenging to suggest that it isn’t worth paying more for better results, but especially if you can tie the better results to better financial results.
It is much more difficult to defend your higher price at the and of the sales conversation when your contact is going to look at your higher price and tell you that if you could get them better results at the same price as your competitor, they’d give you the business. By moving the price conversation forward, you predicate the better results on a more significant investment. No greater investment, no greater results.
There is no reason to avoid this conversation, especially when your prospective client has changed suppliers multiple times, always believing the next partner will finally be the one to deliver the results they need at the low prices they want to pay. Many salespeople will agree to the price; none will produce the promised results.
Quantify Their Losses
What does your price buying contact give up by paying too little for the result they want? Do they give up revenue or profit? Do they pay more in soft costs than they recognize? Do they surrender market share by allowing their competitors who invest more to create a sustainable competitive advantage while they try to shrink themselves to greatness? Are they saddled with rework or lost clients and customers?
What does the lack of investment cost your prospective client? This question is the kind of problem most salespeople won’t ask about because they fear they might lose the opportunity to work with them. The real risk is in not caring enough to have a conversation with your prospective client, helping them make an investment commensurate with the outcomes that they need.
Don’t Pretend This Is Easy
None of this is easy. You also may not accomplish a change of mind in a single conversation. Like everything else in sales, you have to persist long enough to obtain the outcome of changing hearts and minds.
Price buyers tend to try every lower-price supplier, trading one for the next, never getting the better results they need. At some point, when they start to pay the price, or when a new leader shows up, they decide to invest enough to get the outcome they need.
Start with the outcomes, test their commitment to low price, quantify their losses, and persist until your contact sees the real value the higher price obscures.
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Filed under: Sales