7 great steps when the first question is “What’s your price?”

By Geoff Alexander

Geoff Alexander & Company

From this week’s mailbag comes a question about people we call “price shoppers.” This type of call typically occurs when the prospect perceives your offering as a commodity. We cover this type of situation in our inside sales training courses, and every company seems to deal with this, from companies that sell rarified solutions like application development tools, to accounting software, to RAID systems. And yes, there’s an element of the price negotiation process here, too. Here’s the email I got:

Hi Geoff, looking for an answer on how to handle inquiries where the only question is “I want to get a price” from underlings who have no real interest in any of our differentiators, typical the boss tells the receptionist to “get some prices” Often time we probe to establish where we could be different, such as when do you need service, etc. Any ideas on how to handle these type of call which are about 90% of all calls. Thanks, Rick.

Hi Rick,

First of all, by realizing you’re not really selling a commodity, you’re ahead of the game. Every solution is different. If you don’t believe that, then read my blog post on selling commodities, and come up with one. Once you can articulate how you’re differnet than everyone else in the world, follow these steps:

1) Before giving the price, tell the caller “I’d be happy to give the price. I want to make sure I don’t overcharge you for something you don’t need, so let me take a few seconds to ask you a few questions.”

2) Ask why the prospect wants to change the way he or she is doing it now. The prospect will give you his or her “hot buttons.” People don’t change unless the way they’re doing it now stops them from making money, or is costing them money.

3) Take some time to talk about the prospect’s business. Find out how he or she makes money, who its customers are, and how he or she perceives the use your solution will help people buy more product from them. Be creative. It’s in there somewhere, and dpending on the prospect’s need, you could be upselling on the spot.

4) Ask qualification questions that will lead to your solution differentiator.

5) Come up with at least an additional element that your competitors can’t do, and tie it back to what the prospect told you in # 2, 3, and 4 above.

6) At this point, I usually like to empathize with the prospect about the huge number of choices he or she is going to have to consider. “This can’t be easy,” I’ll say.

7) Then build on the differences you’ve discussed, and ask your closing question. A great way to articulate this might be “I think I can save you some time, and give you those additional things you’ll need that nobody else can…”

Based on my experience using this process, you’ll get some orders. And when you don’t, you’ll either have positioned yourself at or near the top of the stack, or you’ll walk away, because it isn’t good business for you. For more on this subject, read another of my posts,

RFP Hazards: Are you being “shopped” by Purchasing Agents? Here’s how to fix it.


So there you have 7 great steps for dealing with the “What’s your price?” first question scenario. Add this process to your Best Practices Playbook.