Love and Money
I know a man who says he can sell, but he can’t.
His name is Jeff. His job title is, rather grandly, Business Development Director. He wears this title with pride, puffs his chest out and generally does a lot of peacocking.
Business Development Director is a fancy way of saying ‘I am in charge of selling because I can sell’. Or, in Jeff’s case:
‘I should be able to sell, I have all the tools and collateral and the product and the pipeline and the support and the fancy car and the big desk and the business cards and the spoonfed leads and all the time in the world but somehow I just can’t sell’.
Every day, Jeff comes in and logs into his CRM, and swivels on his chair and faffs about for the first ninety minutes before making his first call to a client. This is how it goes:
Jeff: Hi, it’s me, I want to sell you my thing.
Them: No, you’re too expensive.
Jeff: Ok then, bye.
Jeff goes back to his boss and says: We’re too expensive! I can’t meet these targets! The price is too much, that’s what I’m being told!’ Then Jeff goes back to his desk and does another bit of faffing. This happens every day, and every day Jeff moans about price. Price, Jeff says, is the only reason he can’t sell.
That’s Jeff and that’s the price myth.
Your business is a perpetual see-saw with two characters at either side. They’re called price and value and both should be as fat as each other to keep the game going. When one loses weight, the other one suffers. Ditto if one gets fatter.
In most businesses this remains steady over time- the two sides may change incrementally over time but in general things will run tickety boo. However now and again, you’ll get spooked by your own version of Jeff – whether he works for you or he’s the voice in your head – and the temptation is to starve your price first because let’s face it, that’s what everyone else is doing.
So Price gets catwalk thin and your seesaw starts to get dysfunctional. The parts get unevenly worn because there’s too much pressure on one side so everyone on the side where the resident fatty – Value – sits has to work twice as hard to keep things going. It’s not sustainable.
This is what happens when a business struggles – the temptation is to just keep reducing the price to respond in kind to the loudest objection. Unfortunately when you alter you alter your seesaw so drastically, all you’re doing is entering a race to the bottom with your competition. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to what the market is doing because your salespeople are probably bitching about unreachable targets, saying they’re being bullied on price.
Here’s the thing: it’s never about price.
It’s about honing your listening skills to understand that what a customer is really saying when something is too expensive. It’s about understanding that your customer came to spend, but what they’re telling you is that they don’t think they’re getting enough for what they are spending.
In other words, your customer is not saying – this costs too much money.
What they are saying is: this costs too much money for what it is.
Your customer is saying: I’ve got the money, I’ll find the money, but I don’t want to give you the money unless I get more bang for my buck.
Price objections are common, everyday. How you handle them however, shouldn’t be.
Here’s a couple of bold ideas:
Go up, not down.
If someone says this isn’t in my budget, show them the next one up, not the next one down. This is the best way of showing them a value difference, in relation to the spend. If someone is 20% out of the ballpark with their budget, demonstrate how the extra 20% in spend results in an extra percentage in value. For example, a 20% increase in the price of a hotel room adds a whole extra level of luxury. Or spending 20% more on a car halves your fuel price for the year.
People hate to lose more than they love to win.
Find another factor that they would lose out on if they didn’t use your product or service. For example let’s say that you’re selling software to automate bookkeeping for the SME sector. Do your research. What would it cost them to keep going the way they are now, and what does this translate to in terms of cost of time lost? Or another example: you’re a branding consultant. How does a better brand impact their bottom line? What kind of customers would they attract if they upgraded their brand position? What are they losing if they don’t do what you want them to do?
Bundle your products and services to add value.
It’s easy to create the illusion of massive added value without a huge amount of loss to your bottom line, in order to justify the extra spend. For example, if you are a professional speaker but your client is claiming that your fees are too high, what if you offered a three-part blog series and an add-on workshop at the session? Purchased separately, these items would probably cost your client an awful lot more but as a package you can easily bolt-on services that your customer will appreciate and that will swing the sale back in your favour.
Ultimately your job as a business owner is not to worry about the price – that’s a problem that your customer has. Their finances are none of your business.
Your job, your only job, is to make sure that your prospect sees your product, understands its value and then falls madly in love. Your job is to make sure that your customer feels they just can’t live without you and your product. That’s it, your only job. If you can do that, your customer will do the rest of the running. It’s never about price, it’s always about love.