Just imagine: You're heading to the end of your sales pitch and everything is looking great. The customer is smiling; you've nailed your pitch, and you're ready to lock this deal down. At the perfect moment, you finally ask for the client's business and hand over the contract. Just before the sale is closed, the buyer looks at you and says the price is too high.

Moments like these are what separate amateurs from experts. How do you handle this complaint? Do you negotiate or stay firm? If you do bargain, what's your stopping point? How will this affect your company and your reputation?

While some or all of these questions are going through your head, you have to make a decision quickly. I've been through this scenario many times with customers, and I've learned there are right and wrong ways to deal with it. Common reactions you hear from the seller are he bargains or gives up. Both are bad moves. Instead, here are three ways to respond and close the deal on the terms you want.

1. Let the client win on something other than price

You don't want to get this conversation into a bargaining war. But just staying firm gives the purchaser a way out of the deal. This is troublesome, especially when you're this close to landing the customer. So, the first step is to agree with the client. This makes him feel like you're giving in. "You're right. Our product is expensive," you say.

Then, instead of negotiating the price, switch the focus to what you'll do for him in customer service or attention. "You're getting a lot for the price you pay, but I totally agree with you," you say. "How about we give your company a free one-hour tutorial on how to get the most out of our product." What this does is change the argument to something you can afford negotiating. If the customer starts bargaining with you on this, don't be afraid to give in a little. This will make him feel like he's won the battle, and he'll feel accomplished. That's when you say, "All right, you got me. I need you to sign the contract here so we can get started."

2. Open up product offerings

Don't lower your price--instead, offer more lower-value products. That way, when the customer says something is too expensive, you can respond with, "I completely understand. For $200 less, we can get you a version of the product that doesn't have X or Y. Then, when you're ready, we can upgrade you to the version you want."

This protects you in two ways. First, you're not forced to think about how low you'd want to go in a negotiation. Second, the client stops thinking you're going to budge. With a wider product offering, you can handle the complaint of not being able to afford your product and still keep your value. The buyer can still go through with the deal, and you'll then have him in a contract you can upgrade later.

3. Agree, then defend

Some buyers will just keep going after you until you finally have to talk about the price. Again, my advice is to never lower your price. Instead, use last-chance techniques to defend yourself and land the deal. First, always acknowledge and agree with the client about his statement. "I agree the price is high,"  you say. You don't want to argue about whether the price is high. It'll get messy and anger the purchaser. Instead agree, then use a couple of these responses, depending on the situation.

A) "Yes, the price is high, but our team is exceptional."

Your team is something no competitor has. State what makes your company strong, and then defend the price on the basis of the group's skills. You want to focus on competitive advantages that will push the customer to believe he can't get the same talent anywhere else. This will help him justify the price.

B) "Every one of our customers says this before they buy."

People don't mind spending money as much when they see everyone else doing it. Let the client know he's not the only one who thinks the price is high, but he'll be one of the only ones who still doesn't buy. This will help push him to commit.

C) "You deserve the best."

It's common for us to assume we're getting a better product when we pay a higher price. Compliment your client by saying how great his business would be, and that you'd only expect him to buy top shelf. If this isn't working, go back and focus on how large the problem is that you're solving for him. A few extra bucks to solve a major problem doesn't sound like a bad deal.

Published on: Nov 20, 2014
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