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Sep 1, 2018

Advice on how to overcome and avoid price objections

Paul Clapham gives his advice on how to overcome and avoid price objections

How much??? You’ve probably heard variations of this more often than you care to remember. It’s your basic price objection, but it need not be the barrier to a sale that many retailers treat it as.

It can come from ignorance. Grandad wants football boots for his grandson and is thinking of the price that applied when he last bought a pair for himself.

Or this could be the sort of chancer who says he never pays the marked price. Far too smart, you see. He always gets a discount. Not when he’s in your store, I’d suggest. Do you want a reputation for caving in to this demand? And he will tell everyone.

I recommend that once you’ve established what type of product the customer wants, you ask if he has a budget in mind. That should drag out any misconceptions. It could equally give you a fine sales opening – the chance to show off your range from premium price to basic.

I have heard and read a lot of experts saying that the salesman should never bring up price first. In a retail setting the customer is going to know the price pretty quickly anyway so I’d say lead with it.

I have heard this approach used very effectively: “Let’s talk about price because you can’t choose until you know why there are different prices and I can’t recommend what fits your needs and budget until we’ve discussed both.” It’s open and honest which people appreciate and don’t always get from salesmen.

I would add that I always feel negative about price being left to last when it happens to me. It feels as though an important consideration is being brushed under the carpet. I also feel that the customer faced with this approach is thinking “this is going to be expensive” – not what you want .

An important consideration is that customers will swear blind that price is not a big deal. Oh really? So how come big retail groups boast their prices. In many cases they talk about nothing else in their advertising and they are hugely successful. Meanwhile customers are telling researchers that price comes fifth or sixth in their priorities. I strongly suspect that people are plain embarrassed to admit the truth: “yes I often/nearly always buy the cheapest option.”

If the customer says “you’re too expensive”. You should have a prepared and considered response. “What/who are you comparing our price with” should be the start point because plenty of people may be comparing the price of a premium brand in your store with a bargain brand in another. They may genuinely not know that they are comparing apples with oranges.

“What price did you expect?” They might just say “less than that” but that helps neither party. They may well be using price as an excuse for the real objection eg ‘my wife will kill me if I buy a new cricket bat’.

The reason the price is higher than some is the quality of the product and the long-term back-up from us. It really will save you money over the product’s life cycle. Be conscious that your definition (and a manufacturer’s definition) of life cycle may be quite different to your customer’s.

Is price your main buying criteria? That’s a hard punch. To a lot of people it effectively says ‘you’re a cheapskate’. It also implies that you don’t know much about snooker, football, tennis or you name it. Whilst that could be true, it won’t endear you to the customer. Listen for slamming door.

How good are your prices? If you are talking to a customer only to have your feet cut from under you on price you are in an uncomfortable place. I know because I have been there: waiting for the price issue to slam the door shut on your whole proposition is deeply unpleasant.

If you are genuinely over priced you have to do something about it because you will lose every time if you can’t come close to customer expectations on price. It is the ultimate deal breaker.

Don’t ignore any sales objections but especially price objections. If someone says ‘that’s expensive’ or ‘more than I’ve seen elsewhere’ you have to address that concern. Be pleased that they are engaging with you – you might prefer it to be on another issue, but you have the chance to argue your case.

Remember that price objections are often valid: big name brands are often over-priced. They have a big marketing budget to support and I suggest that most of your customers would rather not pay for that. If you’ve got an equally good but less famous brand available sell it and it will be cheaper, too, so you are doing a good job for the customer.

Finally, let’s address the retailer’s bugaboo – internet sellers. The customer who uses you to try a product and then buys from some bloke working from his garden shed thinks he’s clever. Wait until something goes wrong, then he’ll realise why that bargain wasn’t so hot. If you get the chance, tell him so.

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