sales tip

What If Your Price Is Going to Be … Problematic?

The Situation

John’s company designs and builds websites for small and mid-sized companies. He focuses on organizations that need to take their websites to a more professional level.

His firm charges a healthy fee to do a comprehensive job. Thus, John tries to show prospects how they will get a good return on their investment before revealing the cost.

In his sales call with prospect Janet, however, the conversation quickly led to this exchange:

Janet:  I’ve looked at some of your work online.  Very impressive!  But that makes me think you don’t come cheap.

John:  Well, to be frank, we think a high-quality site will pay off for you.  In fact–

Janet:  Well, I have to get some kind of figure from you.  Otherwise, I don’t see the point of continuing–

John:  What if you earned that investment back within a year by having a more effective site?

Janet:  Except we just don’t currently have a lot of resources for the level of product you provide.  I hope I haven’t wasted your time in coming here.


John was able to avoid naming a price right away. But even though he tried to keep his prospect engaged, John’s avoidance of a pricing discussion made Janet doubtful. How could John use Q4 needs-based selling to provide Janet with additional incentives to continue the discussion?

The Preemptive Price Question

Knowing when to bring up price can be tricky. As often happens, a prospect may insist that’s where he/she wants to start. Unless your pricing is highly discounted, you know it’s always better to provide a favorable context for talking costs. That usually means showing the product’s tangible needs and the added value the buyer will enjoy by going with you. That includes return on investment. John suggested that a more productive website would quickly pay for itself. Of course, he can’t guarantee that.

A Q4 Selling Advantage

A big advantage of the Q4 sales approach over conventional selling is that a salesperson can add powerful additional incentives based on discovering customers’ intangible needs.

For instance, by probing further, John may verify that Janet has Q1 ego-driven behavior. After all, she seems determined to control this meeting. John might satisfy her ego needs by pointing out that a more attractive website would add prestige and respect for her company. The new website will reflect well on her image among her peers as well.

Because John’s service is customized, he can tailor incentives to almost any intangible needs. It will work for Q2 security and dependability needs; Q3 sociability and belonging needs; or Q4 problem-solving ambitions and the need to innovate.

For successful selling, probe to discover the intangible needs that you could meet, beyond simply value added and return on investment. What you learn will help you shape the unique benefits you can offer to any prospect.

Buy Enough Time to Probe!

Try to buy at least 10 to 15 minutes of time up front, and use it to probe and size up your prospect’s needs. “Janet if I may ask for just a few minutes first, I will be happy to answer your question.” It’s then crucial not to spend that time presenting and doing all the talking. Then, your price discussion can be customized to show all of the benefits that will appeal specifically to your prospect. That’s a powerful answer to anticipated price objections.