Are You the Least Expensive?

So, there you are, coming down the homestretch with a customer you are trying to sell, and you get to the price. That price disclosure is met with a small groan, a wince, and a tug of the chin.  Let’s assume you’ve done a great job of creating urgency, and a great job of walking your customer through Total Cost of Ownership, (TCO), and you’re still battling price with your customer.  I’ve got one more suggestion for you, but it’s not without risk.

Warning:  If you use the idea contained within this BLArticle® and annoy your customer, Rob Jolles from Jolles Associates, Inc. cannot be held liable.

As I was saying, this is an approach that may come in handy every now and then and should be saved for your image-conscious customers. For the record, sight unseen, that represents the majority of your customers.  That said, this particular idea relates to the way your customer’s company does business.  For instance, if you were selling to a law firm for instance, it might sound something like this:

Customer:   “I understand all that, but you are still too darn expensive!”

Seller:   “Mr. Customer, I am going to ask you a question, I mean no disrespect, but I hope you can appreciate why I am asking you this question: Are you the least expensive law firm in town?”

Customer:  “Absolutely not.  Our firm believes in taking care of our clients properly.  These things cost money.  We believe in quality, full attention to the customer, dependability…”

Seller:  “Mr. Customer, my company is not the least expensive either and quite frankly, we never will be.  We also believe in the same things that you just mentioned including quality, full attention to the customer, dependability…”

Usually, customers connect the dots and understand.  Sometimes, customers will explain to you why they are not the least expensive company, and other times, customers will try to tell you why what they do is different from what you do. Either way, this approach certainly advances the conversation.

A few, friendly words of caution before you take this little idea out for a spin:  This suggestion is not meant to antagonize the customer.  I would strongly recommend you not even use this approach unless you have had a few meetings with the customer or are nearing the end of the selling process.

I have had salespeople tell me they have used this process and were met with resistance.  After probing further, I have found that they have used this idea in their opening when challenged on price.  Remember, if you are selling intelligently, you can’t be challenged on price early!  Why you may ask?  Because if you are selling intelligently, you are asking questions and listening early, and it’s pretty hard to be asked about price when you haven’t spoken about a product or solution yet. 

One more word of caution; you need to beware of your tone when using this idea.  You are treading on shaky ground here and I would strongly suggest you phrase the question to your customer delicately.  Please notice the words I used in the example above:  “I am going to ask you a question, and I hope you can appreciate why I am asking you this question.”  The idea here is not to use this tactic like a weapon, but merely as another tactic to draw from.  In the end, it presents a wonderful opportunity to tactfully remind the customer, “You get what you pay for.”

Related: A Different ABC’s of Selling