How to handle the price objection without compromising the sale

“Price is objective; value is subjective. Success in selling lays in marrying the two”

How much? Crunch time in selling and sheer agony for many sellers. Is there a perfect way to deal with this objection? Unless you’re the sole vendor of the must have product (electricity, for instance), no there isn’t. Price can manifest itself as salary (at interviews), fees (consultancy), dowry or the conventional purchase.

Why is price such a tricky topic in selling? First, because it is singularly objective. Price is a number. There is no grey area in numbers. In itself, a number cannot be made to look hazy. Even Shs 999 is not seen as 1000. Secondly, the objectivity of the number immediately positions your product or service in the buyer’s mind. If you have watched foreigners buying, you will notice they will first covert the local currency into their home currency swing their head side to side in quick calculation, and then if the two reasonably match, they nod confirming to themselves that they find the sale fair. And therein lays the problem with price-it is objective when it is said and yet becomes subjective immediately thereafter, consequently opening itself up to bargaining. And why? The buyer believes he can get it cheaper (he has equated your apples with another’s he knows); or, the seller’s voice shook with hesitation as he said the price (and the buyer, smelling fear, lunged for the jugular); or the buyer, even if he feels the price is fair, may still negotiate because he must demonstrate to his superiors that he did so, or, just because (like in Kenya) bargaining is culturally acceptable. All these reasons are subjective and are based on a very objective matter.

The interviewee who’s asked, “so how much do you expect to be paid?” And so he agonises. Should he base it as a percentage of his current income? Or, maybe look to industry standards? Or, possibly what he knows of the company entry level salary? Or should he quote what he believes he is worth? All these are possible options that ping-pong through his mind, and so, despite the panelists already having an entry point (objective)there’s still a possibility that they reward differently for the same experience depending on how the sale (interview) went (subjective).

The foregoing notwithstanding, the foremost reason why price is questioned by the buyer is because its commensurate value is not immediately appreciated. And only the seller can demonstrate this. There are times when standing ones ground (especially for a service e.g. consultancy) is the solution.

In many other instances, price shows up as merely an objection. “You’re too expensive”. The average seller locks on this and becomes defensive pleading, “but we offer this and that and this and that” and it’s downhill from there. Progressive ones acknowledge the objection, “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get” (or Price is cheaper than cost) and immediately shift the discussion to how they address the customer pain point and close. “You cannot afford to have your factory stall again because of a delay in LPG supply. That is the value you get with our industry known lead time which rhymes well with your Just-In-Time inventory strategy. Please sign here and l’ll follow up with the accountant to see through the payment.”

I know an accomplished seller who starts (not ends as is common) his presentation with price and when the buyer’s complains asserts, “Wait and see the value first.” Yet another, when asked for a 20% discount would acknowledge this and then ask the buyer which 20% of the product he wanted removed!

Does it mean that it is wrong to agree to a discount? No. Sometimes there is wisdom in doing so. For instance, your value is unknown, or you just connect with a buyer, or it is repeat business or its bulk. Having appreciated the subjective objectivity of price, however, the point is not to simply acquiesce to a discount and/or compromise value-even if it means losing the sale.


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