It doesn’t matter what you sell, where you sell, or to whom you sell, buyers all just have one question that needs to be answered, according to Lee Salz, contributing  writer for BizJournals. That question is, “How much is it?” Yes, it involves price, and often, this question about cost comes prematurely in the sales process – before the salesperson has had the chance to position differentiators. So what do you do when a prospect brings up price early in the sales game?

According to Salz, you have three choices, only one of which is the “right” decision. The first two choices are:

  • Answer the question by giving the prospect pricing information. This could cost you the sale because the entire conversation immediately becomes focused on price.

OR

  • Refuse to answer and hold out on pricing. This choice might also cost you the sale because you aren’t giving the requested information, which will likely irritate the buyer.

You can opt for a third strategy, and this is the one Salz recommends: Head off the question BEFORE it’s asked. “In the example of a premature pricing request, keep the question from being raised by proactively addressing it early in the conversation,” he writes. He recommends the following dialogue:

“I know a question on your mind is price. That question would be on my mind too. There are several factors that affect pricing for what we offer. If I can ask you a few questions, that will allow me to address pricing for you. Is that okay?”

Using this strategy, you are demonstrating to the buyer that you understand his or her interest in cost and are giving him or her more control by asking permission to discuss the topic later in the process. You won’t be put in a defensive position, and you also can differentiate yourself from competitors by aptly and professionally handling the buyer’s concerns.

As Salz writes, “In a competitive sales environment, salespeople must take advantage of every opportunity to differentiate themselves. This is a simple, subtle way to help them stand out from the pack.”