How to Answer Price Questions

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Veteran cold callers are no doubt familiar with the following scenario: the prospect answers the phone, you give your name and opener, and before you can go any further the prospect says, "What's the price?"

Sounds promising if the prospect is already asking about a price, right? Wrong. Most of the time, a question about price this early on is a trap. The prospect is just looking for something he can say no to so that he can get you off the phone. No matter what price you quote at this point, the prospect will likely reply that it's too much and then hang up the phone.

At this point, it's premature to talk about pricing even if the prospect is interested. For one thing, you don't know for sure yet if the person you're speaking with is a decision-maker or even a prospect at all. So the best response at this point is something along the lines of, "Before you start looking at the possibility of purchasing, I'd like to ask a few questions to confirm that our product is a good fit for your needs."

If the person you're speaking with says okay, then go ahead and ask your usual qualifying questions. But if he refuses and again asks for a number, you have a few different options. First, you can test to see if he's one of the rare prospects who happen to be ready to buy at the moment you call him. Say something like, "Do you already have enough information about our products that you'd feel comfortable buying today if the price is right?" If he says yes, go ahead and quote a number. If he says no, then ask again for permission to ask him a few questions.

Quoting a Range of Prices

Another possibility is to quote a wide range of prices. For example, if you have several different products at different price points or if your products come with a variety of options and packages that affect the price, you can quote a range between your very lowest priced offering and your highest price offering and then say, "In order to give you an accurate price quote I need to ask a few more questions to determine your needs." It is a powerful way to demonstrate to the prospect that you're not meaninglessly stalling him, you really do need more information to proceed.

If you only have one product or there's only one option that would fit this type of prospect, then you don't have the option of quoting a range of prices. Instead, if the prospect insists on hearing a number, you can tell him the price and then follow with a statement like,

  • "However, I would hate for price to be the deciding factor, so we can discuss more specifics about pricing once I know a little more about your specific situation."

This keeps his mind a little more open to the possibility of adding value that will make the price you just quoted more palatable.

Sometimes the question of price will rise up a bit later in the sales process, but still sooner than you're ready to commit to a number. For example, when you walk into the appointment that you made during your cold call, the prospect might greet you by asking you for a price. As a rule, it's safer to not give a specific price until you've had a chance to establish value with the prospect. If the price comes first, the prospect will be weighing everything you say against that price – assuming he doesn't just say "no thanks" as soon as you give a number. So if a prospect asks for a price quote as soon as you walk into the appointment, use whichever of the above responses seem to fit best.