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Selling Tips: When to Provide Pricing – and When Not To By Landy Chase

When a sales lead comes to you regarding your company’s products and services, it’s natural to look at such an event as good news – and in many cases, it is.

Too often, however, the reality is that a number of these inquiries – especially those that begin by saying “I need for you to give me a price on _____” – may not be what they appear to be. In fact, in quite a few cases, they may be nothing more than a waste of your time.

Many sales training programs focus on “qualifying” the prospect; I would suggest that your real objective with many leads is learning rather to disqualify them. Simply stated, this means knowing how to politely and quickly determine if there is a reason why you should not get involved.

Below are some of the more common scenarios that beg for disqualification, together with suggestions on how to handle them.

1) The person calling refuses to answer any questions about their needs. We’ve all had the call that begins with “Hi, I need to know how much you charge for _____”. You ask a probing question to better understand the buyer’s needs, and the response you immediately get is along the lines of “never mind, just give me a price”. Common sense dictates that a person with a serious interest would welcome some intelligent questions from you regarding their specific needs.

Therefore, one of the simplest disqualifying criteria is established by determining if the caller is willing to discuss what they are looking for. At the risk of sounding harsh, I would suggest that you can eliminate this caller – now – as a legitimate prospect. Think about it – how often do people who only want to know what something costs actually end up being a client?

If possible, “ballpark” these calls by providing a range of pricing that can be further clarified with the cooperation you initially asked for – after all, you don’t have enough information to get specific. If they balk at the generalities, say “that’s as specific as I can get with the information you have provided”. Then ask, again, for a moment or two of their time to get a couple of questions answered. In many cases, they will cooperate when you repeat the request.

2) The person requesting pricing is calling you on someone else’s behalf, and therefore is not a qualified buyer. If you’re not sure of the person’s role in the decision process, ask this question during the course of the conversation: “And are you the one making the purchase?” If they are not, ask “then what is the decision process within your company?”

After this is provided, ask for access to the decision maker. Explain that the others involved are likely to have different questions and concerns regarding the item(s) in question, and that you would like to get their additional input to make an accurate recommendation.

If they will not allow you this access, know that you have a 90% chance of not getting the business, and plan your time accordingly.

3) The person calling plans on using your pricing to “shop you around” to other options. This is the person who wants your “best price”. They are usually looking for the cheapest price they can find – which means, if you aren’t the lowest-priced option, you are not going to be a contender for their business.

Not that you would want to be – these people also make the worst customers. In this case, ask “what other options are you considering?” before discussing numbers. If it turns out that they plan on calling competitors, ball-park a quote. Then suggest that they complete their fact-finding first, and call you after they have all of their information.

This tables the price issue for now – and saves you unnecessary wasted time. It also gives you the ability to get the “last look” before a decision is actually made.

In spite of these pitfalls, too many business people think that “any lead is a good lead” – and fall right into the trap of providing pricing information to unqualified buyers. This isn’t just an issue of selling skill; it’s also an issue of time management.

People who aren’t seriously interested in doing business with you are not entitled to a significant amount of your time. Your ability to avoid wasting your efforts in chasing such unqualified opportunities – without offending the caller – is a very desirable and productive business strategy.
Landy Chase, author of Competitive Selling: Out-Plan, Out-Think, and Out-Sell to Win Every Time, founded his own sales training and consulting firm in 1993 and has clients in more than sixty industries on five different continents. Visit him at www.LandyChase.com

-what are your thoughts on the ideas above? Do you agree, or disagree? Why?

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