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Common Questions and Answers
I’ve written previously about how to attract customers and how to manage the sales process. But one thorny issue keeps popping up for my clients… what should they do when a potential customer asks “How much will it cost?” as one of their opening lines.
This focus on price is often a clue to indicate the prospective client may lack knowledge about what you really do. After all, if you were to engage someone else to do your work, you’d want to know more about them than just the price. Sounds obvious doesn’t it.
So… why do clients ask “How much will it cost?” before they really know what you can do? In my experience across many types of businesses, I’ve found that it’s usually because they simply don’t know what else to ask. So they focus on something they understand – price.
But how do you get around the price without seeming like you’re avoiding an answer?
Go on the offensive. Investigate the situation. Use your expert knowledge to uncover what your client really needs. And do it quickly… this is not the time for your life story.
When confronted with a question about the price you must be prepared to drop your defenses and make sure your answer will really help the client. (Note: giving an inaccurate off-the-cuff reply or estimate may seem to relieve the tension, but will rarely help anyone make an informed decision.)
In some cases, if you use a menu pricing approach (where you offer set prices for fixed services/products) this may not be much of an issue.
But for the multitude of service providers and suppliers where price is not fixed and is a function of the complexity of the service or product you offer, then how you answer this question sets up the future relationship with the client.
As you can see, the idea is to create an opportunity for you to find out more about the client and what they really need. Use your professional experience to ask insightful questions, and explain why it’s important you know the answers.
Think about your pricing, write down what you need to say or ask, and practice with a friend or colleague. So when you face a real client you’ll be comfortable with how to handle your response.
In some cases the client may need to go away and get further information before they come back to you for a price. Fantastic! You’re on the path to building rapport and generating trust with this client. Often the price ends up being a lot less important than the client first thought.
Even better, you’re not going to be caught in the situation of giving out a ‘ball park’ figure, only to have the client proceed with the job, (which often includes more than they first mentioned), and then say to you “But you said it would only cost X?”
The questions you pose when asked about the price begin to form the basis of your agreement with the client. The scope of the project starts to be defined. Often the client will contact you with little knowledge of what they actually need. They only know their problem or situation – and they rely on your guidance.
In this way you can demonstrate your professionalism and interest in the clients well-being.
Certainly – go ahead. As long as you have a clear understanding of what you are basing the price on. You really want to avoid guesswork.
And remember… to get a clear understanding you may have to:
When it comes to price, take a professional approach. Don’t shoot from the hip.
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