If your job involves selling, chances are you're going to hear one of these objections: "It costs too much!" or "The price is too high."

The next time you do, try this simple five-step process to handle this all-too-common objection:

1. Preempt price objections. If your offering is more expensive than the competition's, preempt the objection by saying, early in the conversation: "Some people say that our product costs a little too much, but ..." Then explain why it costs more.

2. If the objection comes up anyway, quietly celebrate. Customers never complain about the price objection unless they're seriously thinking about buying from you. That's good news, so take a quick moment to feel good about the situation.

3. Don't focus on the objection. A price objection isn't "real" until the customer has brought it up twice. Say something like: "I hear you. The best products are often more expensive." Then continue whatever you were discussing previously.

4. If the objection resurfaces, learn more. Uh-oh: Now it's real. Find out why price has become an issue and why the customer doesn't yet see the value of what you're selling. Here are eight questions that can help you do that:

  • When you say it costs too much, what do you mean?
  • What has been your past experience with solutions like ours?
  • How do you know it costs too much?
  • What has been your past experience with companies like ours?
  • What are some of your priorities for saving money in this area?
  • Have you figured out the potential cost of not taking action?
  • What are your priorities in this area?'
  • If we set price aside for a moment, is this the product you want to buy?

Any of these questions reveal useful information and will help you determine where you need to "do more selling" in order to get the order.

The final one is particularly handy because it smokes out situations where "it costs too much" is just a smokescreen for something else, like the lack of a budget to buy.

5. Raise the value relative to the cost. Based on what you learned from the conversation at Step 4, shift the conversation to focus on the financial or emotional impact of what you're selling, so that the price seems less and less important.

For example: If you discover that the prospect thinks your offering is too pricey because a specific competitor's product cost less than yours, emphasize features of your product, company or sales support that make your offering a better value, despite the higher cost.

Similarly, if the real problem is that the prospect simply doesn't know how his firm would go about buying your offering, work with the prospect on a plan to either bring the issue to somebody who would know, or to create a new buying process.

I wish I could say that the wisdom in this column came out of my own creativity and experience. In fact, it simply distills and combines wisdom that I've gotten from having conversations with four of the top sales gurus in the world: Barry Rhein, Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins and Bob Nicols.

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