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Is Pricing or Selling The Problem?

If you are a sales manager or owner you probably hear the same things I do related to pricing. Sales people will say they need to discount for this or that. It is either a competitive situation or a loyal customer deserves a good deal. My stance is to not discount as a practice but be open to negotiations if needed for the right reasons. When one salesperson is consistently having pricing issues or objections you probably don’t have a pricing problem you have a selling problem. This is how I address the problem.

You first need to realize the problem lies in the perceived value of your product or service by the customer related to the price. Most likely the salesperson is taking short cuts while selling or product dumping to convince someone to buy. They have strayed from the fundamentals of discovery to uncover buying motives, problems, goals or needs. Michael Bosworth’s book Customer Centric Selling is a great resource to help a sales person understand discovering needs. You can also take a look at my article on Discovery Appointments as a quick reference and sales tool.

Have the Salesperson prepare questions (written down) before their appointment and have them show them to you. Make sure they are questions that will help the salesperson understand the customer, their business, their problem and their goals. Don’t let them just leave with questions related to how many widget they think they need. When they return debrief the salesperson. Don’t ask them what they sold; ask them about the answers to the questions they listed. Find out if they asked the questions and what they learned. If they did not, do it again for the next appointment. Let them know you don’t care if they sell anything on the appointment but they need to come back understanding the customers needs.

Keep it up until they see the value in doing this. Once they understand the customer problem, presenting your solution will carry more value and pricing will begin to become less of an issue.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Rene, I loved this article, and I can’t believe you originally wrote it in 2007! So much has happened since then. It was right before the 2008 financial crisis, for one. And if you fast-forward all the way up to COVID-19, you could probably count dozens of significant changes to the worlds of business, customer service, and sales. But what I find so beautiful about sales coaching is that a lot of it has remained evergreen. Sure, you need to update things to stay with the times—changing technology and customer expectations—but human psychology changes much more slowly. For example, I challenge you to find a person who’d guess that you wrote this in 2007: “You first need to realize the problem lies in the perceived value of your product or service by the customer related to the price. Most likely, the salesperson is taking shortcuts while selling or product dumping to convince someone to buy. They have strayed from the fundamentals of discovery to uncover buying motives, problems, goals or needs.” I don’t think that the discovery process will change any time soon, and salespeople are still here, taking the same old shortcuts. Great work updating this over the years. And thanks for the engaging read.

    1. Hi Rachel. Thanks for bringing this article back to the forefront. I often say that selling does not change. At least the sales conversation. If a buyer is in need of support in making a decision, the salesperson has a role to do that. How we support making that decision changes a bit from time to time, but if someone needs help and they trust you enough to allow you in, it’s selling time.

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