Tactics for Delaying the Price Talk, and What to Do When You Can’t Get Around It

We’ve all been in that uncomfortable situation when a customer tries to corner us into a discussion about price before we’ve had the opportunity to thoroughly get to know their needs. Oftentimes you can squeeze yourself out of that tight spot, but sometimes you’re trapped like a bug in a corner spider’s web. Below are some useful tactics for gracefully extricating yourself from the price corner, along with some “what to do’s” when you just can’t avoid the tangled web of price talk.

Creating value for the client is, and always should be, your aim—the more you can do that, the higher the price of your G&S (goods and services). Whenever possible, avoid talking price with clients before you know precisely what you’re going to do for them. It’s like a concrete company saying, “We’ll do X work on your house foundation for X amount, sight unseen, just sign here.” This is not best practice for the contractor, who may be shortchanging themselves, nor is it good for the homeowner, because—wow, what do you know?!—another company would actually come out to examine the foundation, and maybe even quote a lower price.

Price should be toward the bottom of the list of things to discuss during a consultative sales negotiation. It’s tricky to do sometimes, but try your best to save price haggling till after you’ve done your due diligence and researched the client’s needs and the cost to you for “solutionizing” those needs. Until and unless you know such relevant facts as what your client’s constrains are, what their vision is, and what it would take for you to package the right solution, you have no way of knowing what price point to work from—because prior to getting all the facts, ma’am, you can’t know what the true cost is.

Don’t Play the Numbers Game
Price expectation is always something you’re coming up against with customers. Before you’ve even done the glad-handing portion of your job, a rigid client may be thinking, “I’m only going to pay this much—not a penny more!” This can be intimidating, but regardless, take a page from the caution handbook about disclosing price too soon. If you quote a price early and it’s higher than what the client had expected, you’ll have to manage their resistance and price objections; they may even ditch you.

Instead of giving out a number, first show the value of what their money will buy, demonstrating the benefits and the enduring future results of that value. This is your chance to make the compelling case that your solution is the superior choice, one that’s worth paying a bit more for. Remember, don’t let a prospect choke on the price. It will go down a lot smoother if they really understand the value of what they’re getting.

Tact, Not Tackiness
You don’t want to annoy the customer or make them feel like you’re the proverbial holding-out salesperson engaging in a game of information hording when it comes to price. You know, the old “Before I answer that, tell me how much you want to pay.” Use tact when they request pricing info and you’re not ready to divulge what you haven’t even been able to determine yet. Some simple rules to follow are:

  • Strategically delay the price discussion
    • Your script could go something like this: “I’d be happy to give you the pricing details. But as you know there are many options with this product. So I’d like to ask you a few more questions to better understand your needs, and from there, I can provide you with a specific quote.”
  • Give a price range
    • You might say, for example, “We pride ourselves on being able to offer solutions for every budget. On the lower end, you will pay around [fill in the blank amount]. Up on the higher end, it will be between [fill in the blank amount] and [fill in the other blank amount].”

Take Me out of the Ballpark!
If you’re trying to keep the deal moving along and every other word out of your prospect’s mouth is “ballpark,” give them their peanuts and crackerjacks, so to speak, and use this best practice to satisfy their pricing curiosity: Take the opportunity upon divulging price info to start a continued-needs discussion between the ballpark and the end of the game—when you’re fully equipped to present the offer and hit one out of the park for both teams.

When there’s no avoiding a premature price discussion, position the price according to the needs you’ve already gathered about the customer. Price aside, it will always be to your advantage to work toward the goal of ensuring that the customer gets the value of your total solution, including and beyond price considerations.