Some years back I worked as a sales coach for one division of a large services company where there were several hundred outside sales reps. The Division President, who recruited me for this job, was a stern fellow who refused to put up with any monkey business. When somebody would commit a Captain Obvious moment, and should have known better; he would give them a death-ray stare and make a sobering statement. He would say, “If a dozen Frenchmen tell you you’re drunk, you ought to sit down.” It was very self-explanatory and would tell the perp immediately they committed a serious blunder.

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A statement like this is certainly relevant for salespeople grappling with customer pushback over pricing. As a salesperson how often do you hear responses like; “Your price is too high?” The honest answer is, “Just every day!” So when that response tumbles out of a prospect’s mouth, you might want to think of another statement, this one by the most famous hockey player ever, Wayne Gretzky. He often said, “Skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is now.”

So when the “price too high” mantra is heard you should realize what they really mean is that your price is too high compared to something else. For instance too high compared to what they thought they would have to pay (thanks a lot, internet) or maybe too high compared to a competitor’s quote they received prior to your arrival. When you hear this, your job is to “skate to where the puck is going” and establish the difference between your price and their perception; which more often than not is a competitor’s quote.

Frankly, that’s what you have to sell…the difference. To know what that is, why not simply ask your buyer, because he or she has no reason to withhold the other guy’s price or offering. This is the best way for your prospect to attempt to get you to join the limbo dance and go lower.

In a nutshell to improve your odds of getting the cigar rather than just coming close, consider these suggestions:

  • Establish the amount of the price difference between you and the competitor.

  • Chip away at the difference by highlighting your features that are unique or exclusive.

  • Clarify by citing benefits that describe ‘how it works’ (logical) and ‘how they will feel’ (emotional).

  • Explain any aspects of your solution that will reduce or eliminates risks.

  • Conduct a demonstration (if appropriate) of your solution to hopefully “wow” the prospect.

  • Check for acceptance with a closed question to gauge reaction to your response.


Once you feel your points have been made why not conclude your rebuttal by quoting ‘The bitterness of poor quality maxim’?

Typically this will shine a spotlight on any “commodity thinking” in the prospects mind, tipping the scales in your favor and helping you win the customer.



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