Down-​Selling Can Save A Valuable Sale

BY Jessica Helinski
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Successful sellers understand that not every sales interaction is going to play out how they hope. They also understand that compromise is sometimes needed, and their ability to adapt can save a sale. This ability to adapt and work with the prospect is the basis of down-​selling, according to HubSpot’s Jay Fewks. “It's the art of strategically presenting prospects on their way out the door with financially viable alternatives that keep them interested.”

What is down-​selling? When should you do it?

While not every deal will be worth a compromise, there are times when a potential sale is just too valuable to completely let go. In these circumstances, salespeople can employ different down-​selling tactics. Fewks defined down-​selling as follows:

Down-​selling is the strategy of countering a prospect's price-​based objections to a sale by offering a lower-​priced alternative or discount that better suits their budget. It's generally only employed when a prospect has clearly indicated they aren't interested in buying.”

He goes on to point out that sellers should be thoughtful about when they attempt this tactic. If done too soon, they risk devaluing their offering and missing out on making the most of the opportunity. You should only attempt to down-​sell when you’ve reached a point where you’re absolutely sure the prospect will not buy. Most often, this is due to budget issues. So, it’s important that you’ve successfully explored this topic in full and understand their constraints.

Lack of budget is a fairly common scenario, so likely, sellers will encounter this situation, if they haven’t already. 30% of sellers say not having adequate budget is a top objection they most have to overcome, according to SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep survey.

Examples of down-selling

One example of down-​selling is to offer an alternative to the prospect that is more in line with what they can spend. Because you know both their need and their budget, you should be able to come up with an alternative. This may be an adjusted price point or a different solution altogether.

If a prospect demonstrates an interest in a product with an aversion to its price, you have to down-​sell,” Fewks writes. “In this case, that would mean physically leading them to a reasonable alternative, similar to what they were looking for in the first place.”

Packaging or bundling can also be used when down-​selling. This strategy can offer a lower price while still upholding the perceived value of your offering.

If you offer an alternative solution, note that you should consider upselling to the client in the future. Once they’ve used your solution and found it valuable, there will be major opportunity to upsell add-​ons or new features. So rather than letting a sale go, consider down-​selling by offering an alternative solution, including lower-​priced packages. You’ll still make a sale, establish loyalty with the client and position yourself for future revenue.

Down-​selling has big benefits

As Fewks points out, “You're showing that you understand and want to best serve your customers. And if they get a lot out of your lower-​priced product or service, there's a good chance they will remain loyal and ultimately upgrade to a higher-​priced option.”

Nick Shaw, CRO of Bright Pearl, agrees. He encourages sellers to “Think of down-​selling as displaying your honesty. By offering a cheaper product than they were originally looking at, they will appreciate being offered an alternative that may be kinder to their budget. That means increased levels of customer satisfaction and an higher likelihood that they will shop with you in the future.”

Don't let those special sales get away

Sales reps must be able to adapt to prospects’ needs, and often, that means adjusting their approach. Rather than lose a truly valuable sale, down-​selling can help both seller and buyer by reaching a compromise. This tactic not only saves a sale, but also establishes loyalty and sets the seller up to nurture the relationship for growth.

Photo by Gabrielle Henderson