Be prepared for routinely heard price objections! It’s a piece of advice that I’ve given to hundreds of clients. Identify the list of price objections that salespeople hear on a regular basis, and then prepare the most effective responses for diffusing those objections.
Don’t Just Hope
It’s likely that your organization has spent a significant amount of time and money on other kinds of messaging: website, signage, pitch decks, marketing collateral, trade association booths, advertising, etc. How many dollars and hours have you spent developing messaging to help your sales team close more business faster at higher prices by addressing price objections?
For most organizations, the answer is exactly zero. Most simply hope their salespeople can do a good job of handling objections. But as one of my professors back in business school used to say, “hope is not a strategy.” Arming your team with an actual set of useful tools in the face of price objections will go a lot further than hope.
A Price Objection FAQ
So back to making a list. Here’s what should be on it: The talking points, questions, and facts that are most convincing when customers offer some version of, “your price is too high.” I call such a documented list for internal use a Price Objection FAQ, and I think every organization ought to have one. (And don’t stop at simply generating the document. Distributing a Price Objection FAQ that sits in the email inbox of your sales team is barely a better strategy than hope. Contact us to learn how to help your team get better at handling objections and how to ensure hidden obstacles don’t sabotage success.)
Ask, Don’t Tell
Recently I met with a client to review their Price Objection FAQ and list of proposed responses to customer price objections. Their list was thorough and thoughtful, with comprehensive rebuttals to any objection a customer could raise. If the customer objected to the price, there was an answer about why the price was justified. If the customer said there were cheaper options available, there was an answer about the inferiority of those alternatives. There was an answer for everything.
But what was missing? Questions. There was a lot of telling. But no asking. The very best response to a price objection isn’t a response at all; it’s a thoughtful question to move the sale forward.
Questions are incredibly useful sales tools. Asking questions causes a completely different result in the customer’s brain than telling. According to a boatload of research summarized in this Fast Company article, “Questions hijack the brain. The moment you hear one, you literally can’t think of anything else… Questions trigger a mental reflex known as ‘instinctive elaboration.’ When a question is posed, it takes over the brain’s thought process. And when your brain is thinking about the answer to a question, it can’t contemplate anything else.”
If I asked you right now, “what is the last thing you ate?” for a split second (or longer), your brain is incapable of thinking about anything but the answer to that question. (For me, it’s Caprese salad.)
Neuroscience and Objections
So how does this reality of neuroscience factor into handling objections? What if you responded to price objections with thought-provoking, authentic questions to help the customer come to the appropriate conclusion about the value of your solution? Because of the instinctive elaboration reflex, the customer’s brain reflexively seeks to answer your questions. The customer literally can’t contemplate the price objection or anything else while the question you posed occupies their brain. What a powerful sales tool.
Imagine this: The customer expresses a concern about fees, budget, competitive quote, or some other price-related objection. Instead of eagerly steamrolling the customer with your value proposition, you ask authentic, effective questions designed to understand what’s underneath the price objection.
Instead of seeking to squash the objection, you ask thought-provoking and open-ended questions designed to elevate the conversation beyond transaction-level. You seek to behave as a trusted advisor, guiding them through careful inquiry to the best decision.
Another Reason to Question
Asking questions in the face of objections also reduces resistance. If a customer pushes back on price, and you push back on their objection, the result is two parties pushing against each other like two brick walls. When that objection is overcome and the customer raises another, you push back again. The customer might get the feeling that you only care about making the sale and not about truly helping them. Genuine, helpful questions can move the sale forward and help the customer make a prudent choice for themselves without high-pressure pushback.
Like Bruce Lee said, “be water, my friend.”