Many business owners and sales reps hate price objections. They view price objections as some kind of faux pas that they should have avoided, an awkward situation, best resolved quickly (and often with huge damage to profits). Do you like price objections? When was the last time you heard one? (I recently spoke to the new CEO of an established business who said they haven’t heard a price objection in 2 years, so they know their pricing is screwed up.)
If you don’t like price objections, you could be accidentally killing your business. If no one ever objects to your price, many of your customers would probably pay considerably more.
Charging a little more has a disproportionate impact on the bottom line. For example, raising prices 10% from $150 to $165 per hour will likely raise profit much more than 10%. Since that extra margin goes straight to the bottom line, you might increase profit 20 or 30%. That sure beats working 20-30% longer!
In addition, pricing objections give you great insight into what the customer cares about. They are learning opportunities. You get to learn about the customer, and you get a chance to test your messaging for why your price premium is a good investment. No objections, no learning.
When you get an objection, there are 4 possibilities.
- The customer was never a good fit. You should suggest they go elsewhere. These are the “I want a brand new Ferrari and I have a $20,000 budget” customers. If you currently sell them $20,000 Ferraris, you have a big problem.
- The customer is a good fit for your company, but has legitimate reasons for wanting a cheaper price. These are the “I want a really fast car, something like a Ferrari, and I have a $50,000 budget” customers. Maybe they can get a used Porsche 911. Maybe you can remove some of the value from your offering and lower your price, and/or give them discounts for upfront payment, flexible scheduling, volume purchases, or other behaviors that create shared value. (See more on how you can Price for Profit.)
- The customer is a great fit, but wants to see if they can get a better deal. These are the “I’d love a Ferrari, what kind of deal can you give me?” customers. They are asking for a discount because they know it can’t hurt. Make sure they understand the value message, and charge them the right price. They can get a discount if they agree to some of the shared value behaviors in step 2, of course.
- The customer may be a good fit, but they are using price as a mask for deeper issues. These are they “I’d love to buy a Ferrari, but I can’t spend more than $20,000 (because my wife said I could get a Ferrari if I didn’t spend more than that)” customers. So you say “let’s say we agreed on your price, are you ready to buy today?” If they are ready to buy, you can deal with the price objection by putting them in one of the previous 3 categories. If they start talking about their budget cycle, IT approval, the need to get buy-in from their Tokyo office, etc, then you know that price was just a smoke screen. They have other issues that they may not feel comfortable airing, but even if you lower your price, those issues remain.
Note that customers put themselves into these categories. The price objection just helps you figure out how to deal with them. Don’t assume that everyone is in #2 and will respond to lower prices. This just becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and teaches your customers in #3 and #4 to act like they need more discounts.
Now consider what happens when you don’t get a price objection. Either:
- You priced the offering at exactly the optimum price for that customer, or
- You underpriced.
So when was the last time you got a price objection? How did you handle it?