How to Make Your Sales Conversations NOT “All About Price”
During the qualification and discovery stage of a sales conversation there is a vital step that many B2B (business-to-business) sales professionals miss. Skipping this step will put you on a dangerous course that usually forces you to defend your value, offer discounts and work twice as hard to overcome objections. Save yourself from having to do the famous “sales person back-peddle” in order to win the sale. Discuss the prospects budget and financial investment before sending them a bid or proposal.
The Money Trap
Imagine meeting with a prospect who is curious about what you have to offer. You ask them several questions about their need to buy, what they are looking for and why it is so important to them. At this point you start getting excited because you feel the conversation going in the right direction. Not wanting to mess things up you begin talking about the features and benefits of your product. The prospect asks you for a proposal or bid and you happily agree to send them one. When they get the proposal they tell you they decided to go with a “more cost effective alternative”. That is code for: “you were too much and we found someone cheaper”. You try hard to offer discounts, resolve concerns, add value, share testimonials, etc – but to no avail and you lose the deal. Does this Money Trap, or some variation of it, sound familiar to you?
How to Avoid the Money Trap
It is critical that during the discovery and qualification stage of the conversation that you ask questions to determine what sort of budget the prospect is working with. Doing this will allow you to better position your bid or proposal and make it more relevant. Most sales people view this as risky or “getting too personal” with a prospect. It is neither. It is more risky for you and the prospect if you DON’T ask. You risk wasting your time and theirs if you do not have full understanding of their situation. Sales clerks, order takers and vendors shy away from talking about money; but sales consultants, advisers, experts and valued partners always discuss money early in the sales conversation. So how do you do it? Here are a few steps to take:
Step One: Get Permission
“John, I appreciate what you have shared with me. Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about your thoughts on the financial aspect of this issue?”
Step Two: Learn Their Budget Range
“John, have you set aside a budget for fixing the issues we have been talking about?”
“Would you mind sharing with me, in round numbers – maybe a high to low range, what that budget looks like?”
Step Three: Gain a Full Understanding
“John, when you have purchased things of this nature in the past how has that transaction been handled?
“What sorts of payment terms seem to work best for you and your company?”
“If we did decide to work together what else would I need to understand in regard to your purchasing process?”
Dealing with Money Road Blocks
What do you do if the prospect says they have no budget or they have no idea how much to spend on your product or service? Here are some suggestions:
- If the prospect says they have no budget set aside to address the issues (this is very common) immediately “stop the presses”. Start asking them questions such as, “John, based on your comments this seems to be pretty important for you. If you did decide to move forward with it, where would the money come from to invest in this?” Also, “If you did decide to move forward with a purchase of some kind, what financial range would you give yourself permission to spend?”
- If the prospects has no idea how much to allocate for the purchase (this is also very common) then you can give them a “prompt” that will test the waters a bit. For example, “John, I have noticed that clients who work with me typically spend anywhere from $2,000 per month, for very basic services, to $10,000 per month, for highly customized and advanced services. Which end of that spectrum could you see yourself feel more comfortable at?” “So, if we were to work together we should be focusing on solutions closer to the $2,000 range. That works. But probably focus on no more than…, what would you say on the high side?”
You Will Be Tempted
Many sales people fall victim to the temptation of skipping the money conversation because of the following:
- They get excited because the sales conversation is going well and they don’t want to ruin anything.
- They fear that talking about the prospects budget is rude, inappropriate or getting too personal.
- They worry it might make the prospect mad or upset.
- They feel rushed and pressured by the prospect to “cut to the chase” and get to the good stuff.
- They feel like talking about the financial constraints of the prospect is not important.
Whatever the excuse or temptation might be, the answers is always the same. Don’t be fooled and don’t believe that “story”. As sales people we are very good at telling ourselves stories that are based on our insecurities and fears. Don’t do it. Don’t fall for it. Stand your ground. Be assertive. Follow the steps and it will always pay off for you.
Do It Now Or Regret It Later
Sales people who skip over the step of discussing the prospects financial considerations during the qualification and discovery stage run a big risk of dealing with problems later on. Many sales managers and sales professionals ask me, “How do I make the sales conversation not ALL ABOUT PRICE?” Oddly enough, one of the ways to do this is by dealing with price upfront before you send the proposal. Doing this will allow you to more effectively focus on solutions to problems, creating value and building credibility with the prospect. Skipping this step puts you on a risky path that usually forces you to defend your value, offer discounts and work twice as hard to overcome objections. Learn from the best sales people out there. Discuss the prospects budget and financial investment before sending them a bid or proposal.
“BASKing” In Sales Success
Most sales people understand the concept of having a money conversation with prospects early in the sales conversation. Intellectually it just makes sense. However, not many sales develop the habit or courage to do it. Why is that? One reason is that they may not yet made the professional transition to selling like a consultant rather than a clerk. This is a critical point and it makes a huge difference in how successful a sales person is overall. The transition from sales clerk to professional consultant requires a change in selling behaviors, attitudes, skills and knowledge (B.A.S.K.). We call its “BASKing” in sales success when sales professionals have made the transition. Those who don’t make this transition are viewed by their prospects as “disposable” and easily replaced by a cheaper alternative. It can be very difficult to be successful when we are viewed as a “disposable sales person” to our clients and prospects.
Could you or your sales team use a deeper dive on this topic? Contact me for a FREE 1 hour training and let’s see if we can’t move your sales revenue to the next level. Remember, creating value is the end. Professional selling is only a means to that end.
Terry Hansen is a popular speaker, consultant, trainer, and author on helping sales teams improve their ability to create value for their prospects and clients. He is regularly asked to train sales and management teams in strategies to find more prospects, close more sales, and increase customer loyalty through value creation strategies. You can connect with Terry on LinkedIn, or get more information by visiting www.TerryHansen.net or calling 844-205-5054.