In a program last week, one of the participants received a request from a customer/prospect (see customer or prospect post", August archives) for a price on an item that the prospect was currently sourcing from another vendor. The request was via e-mail and offered an opportunity to demonstrate some of our strategies in a "virtual training" exercise... a chance to "practically apply" some of what we had just been teaching.
My participant was anxious to send out a price because this was a customer that she was currently doing business with but not on this product. It offered an opportunity to increase her business with that account and since she often had a price advantage, she believed she had a good opportunity to win the business... simple, just e-mail back a quote.
Our selling model suggests that "your price" is part of the "info/proof" step which is actually step five in the model. Giving a price out too early has you out of control, as well as out of sequence with the model. I suggested that we send an e-mail back asking a couple of questions:
1. Are you unhappy about anything with the product you currently buy?
2. Did you have a price or budget that you were trying to stay within?
The temptation to just send a price is strong, but often puts you at a disadvantage. Although my participant was eager to get the business and wasn't quite sure if she would get the information we asked for, she agreed to go along.
Minutes after sending our questions we got an answer... and not what we had expected. First, the prospect told us who they were buying from and the price they were paying. They said they would prefer to buy from us (preference) if we could be competitive. However, the product we were going to offer... based on the request we got... was actually twice as expensive. Although she often had a price advantage in this case she didn't.
Now, the question that we need to bring up is if our product is twice as much does it offer some advantages that the customer is not currently getting? A conversation we could never have if we had given them the price! Providing our price would have quickly eliminated us from consideration, not to mention leaving or maybe building the impression that if we were high on this item maybe we were high on everything else!
So now, by not giving out the price and getting more information we are not only controlling the process but have gotten the prospect to reveal preference for us as well as some valuable information that might help us make the sale. We can now communicate with our customer that we have a product that would fit their needs but need to ask some questions first to determine if we can supply a product for the price they want to pay.
Now using our "Value Translation Strategy" we can ask questions to determine the true value of what we offer. By not "folding to the path of least resistance" and asking some questions we have managed to stay in control of this sale and have a higher likelihood of a positive outcome. So, next time you're asked for a price don't just take the easy way out... it just may end up losing you the sale!