Most of us know in our bones that if a client objects on price, the problem is not really price. Conventional wisdom says the problem is value. But conventional wisdom is occasionally wrong, and price is often one of those cases. To test the truth of this, just check your own experience.
How often have you tried to convince a price-objecting client that actually, the value is quite high, a bargain, underpriced for the value you get, etc. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, it has rarely worked. The reason is that both price and value are economic issues, but price objections are usually emotional.
Why price is like dating
Remember (if you’re a guy) asking out the prettiest girl in school for Friday night? If she said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m busy Friday night,” did you get the hint? The hint was not that she was actually busy Friday night–she was telling you “no” in a socially acceptable way, allowing you to pretend it was a scheduling problem.
The truth was she didn’t feel like going out with you. And you probably got the hint: You instinctively didn’t push for Saturday. You didn’t try to respond to what was really an emotional issue with a scheduling solution. You knew that if she had wanted to go out with you, she’d have said, “I’d love to–I’ve got a previous commitment for Friday, but could we make it next Tuesday or Thursday?”
Price works the same way. If your client says to you, “Oh, I’d like to, but that’s really just too expensive for me,” they probably don’t mean it’s too expensive. They mean they don’t feel like buying that insurance from you. If you respond by trying to argue value, it’s like trying to convince the “I’m busy Friday” girl to reconsider for Saturday–it’s just not going to happen. You don’t respond to emotional objections with economic arguments.
Respond to emotional objections with emotion
Instead, meet emotional objections with emotional responses. Your client just told you that they’re not interested in dealing with you, at least not on this subject. That’s not a price problem, that’s a relationship problem. And that’s a big deal. You need to quickly show that you respect them, by showing them you respect their objection–even if it was a “I’m busy Friday” kind of objection.
First, stop pushing the sale. Don’t argue value, don’t argue at all. Show that you respect the client by respecting their wishes–drop the subject. If you suspect that price is masking an emotional reluctance,
then you need to earn back the right to offer advice. You do that by empathetically listening to the client.
Try something like this
“Too expensive? Oh, OK. Sounds like maybe this might not be the right thing for you. I might have misunderstood your situation. Sorry about that. Would you mind backing up and going over again with me how you see your needs in this area?”
Your objective isn’t to see what you missed the first time; it’s to make sure that this time, the client feels really heard, really listened to. They may or may not change their mind–that’s not the point. The point is for you to leave them feeling that you care about them and their needs, and that you’re committed to helping them, rather than selling them.
If you can do that, you’ve done a lot. The client will let you know if and when they’re willing to re-engage. If they do, they’ll suggest the equivalent of “How about next Tuesday or Thursday?” and you’ll know the difference.