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Common Questions and Answers
Even the most sales savvy among us has had to fight back the nerves that materialize whenever we are faced with telling a customer about a price increase.
Talking about it never makes for an easy conversation. When discussing a price increase in a business-to-business environment, it is important to remember that our customers have probably had to have the same discussion with their own customers. A company exists only as long as it earns a profit, and it can only do that if it delivers a quality product or service at the right price.
Give the customer lead-time. Provide the customer with enough notice to allow them to make adjustments in their information systems and to exercise at least one more order at the existing price.
Avoid showing favorites. Pricing integrity is always essential, but especially so during a price change. Do not treat particular customers more favorably than others in pricing during an increase. Different pricing levels are fine as long as they can be logically defended so that a customer who is not receiving the price break can understand and accept the price change.
Do not allow your customer to find out about a price increase from your invoice. Any changes in pricing must come from the account executive or a person of high position within the company. Information regarding a price change should only appear on an invoice after every person involved has been personally notified. (Sufficient time should occur in the price increase timeline to allow at least one invoice to contain a note of the pending increase in price.)
Make sure each customer service representative and anyone else who comes in contact with the customer is fully aware of when the price increase is going to be communicated. One of the most significant possibilities for confusion is when the customer hears conflicting information from different departments. Everyone in customer service needs to be fully aware of the price increase, the reasoning behind it, and the logistics for implementation. They should also be provided with a FAQ guide to ensure that when customers do ask them about elements of the pricing increase, they are able to share accurate information.
Believe in the price increase. In order to be paid what you are worth, you must charge what you are worth. Although this is not something that can be explicitly communicated to the customer, this general sense is what sets apart the best practice companies and high-performing sales professionals.
Instill an open-phone/open-door policy. Any time a price increase takes place, it is important for all senior executives to be willing to answer a phone call from a customer or to make phone calls to key customers. For successful consultative selling, nothing sends a stronger signal to a sales organization than seeing their senior executives on the front-line when dealing with a price increase.
During the 1970s and 1980s, price increases were common and expected. In the past several years, however, we’ve all grown used to lower inflation and the overwhelming impact of Wal-Mart’s philosophy on pricing. Today, price increases are again growing more common and acceptable as long as they are well thought through and not seen as a way to merely increase profits.
Because they are an inevitable part of business today, we can’t let ourselves avoid dealing with price increases. Instead, we should seek to use them strategically to increase our selling potential.
About the author
Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. He is also author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.”