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The price is right

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- Posted: December 12, 2018

As sales professionals, we’re often convinced that when we lose business or aren’t the chosen service provider that price is most certainly to blame.

There can’t be any other logical reason why we didn’t get the job, right? With all the low-ballers out there, it’s amazing we have any business at all! Some of these guys are just giving work away! As snow professionals, we’ve all participated in these rants and rhetoric at one time or another. And each time we have, it’s likely been a misdirected and erroneous argument.

Some buyers will always go with the lowest bid, but we’re not obligated to spend our time with or even feel obligated to provide pricing to these folks. Just because someone asks for a price doesn’t mean we have to give one. Contrary to popular belief, buyers focused almost entirely on the lowest price are not the overwhelming majority that many think we are up against.

Some competitors always sell on low price. But we’re not obligated to compete with them or even play their game. We get to decide to play in a totally different game, one with potential for us to actually win. Let’s be honest: it’s not the fault of the low-baller or the cheap prospect that we didn’t win the business — it’s ours. We have to focus on what we can control, and we have complete control over how we spend our time and with whom.

Get in with the right crowd

Often, our frustration regarding the low-price game exists simply because we’re spending time with and proposing work to the wrong buyers. The prerequisite to overcoming price objections and winning business without negotiating price is taking control over our time and our sales process. If we’re in front of the wrong prospects, no strategy we adopt will achieve our desired outcome.

Focus on and target prospects and clients who aren’t driven by price alone — they exist! I’m not suggesting we search for a subculture of buyers where price is of no concern. But there are plenty of buyers whose primary concern isn’t finding the lowest price possible.

 Go beyond price. Target clients who have objectives beyond finding the lowest price. In the snow and ice management industry, these are often the properties where substandard service may actually cost more than paying for the right contractor. Some examples include sites subject to significant liability risk, demanding tenants or clientele, high foot traffic, medical facilities, emergency service facilities and low or even zero-tolerance manufacturing and distribution centers.

 Qualify leads. Be committed to qualifying every lead before providing a proposal, or investing significant time. As our most valuable and only non-renewable resource, our time is sacred. It takes a certain degree of discipline to pass on potential business, but that’s exactly what this requires — discipline and a commitment to being intentional in all we do.

Believe in your pricing

Even a well-qualified prospect might object to your price. Don’t take it personally. Some buyers feel obligated to ask for a reduction. Their motives are to keep as much of their money as possible; but don’t jeopardize your price integrity. Remind the prospect of their previous pains, demonstrate your plan to solve those pains, and be firm in explaining why your price will provide them with the level of service you discussed. Some buyers actually become reassured of your ability to perform when they realize your confidence and commitment to your price.

Whenever possible, get the discussion of money on the table before you submit your proposal. The contents of a written proposal shouldn’t surprise the prospect. It formalizes what’s already been discussed. You’ll save a lot of wasted time proposing work to prospects who are never going to buy if you talk money up front.

Overcoming price objections comes down to being confident in your price. Have the conversation early in the sales process. Convince the prospect that you’re confident in your ability to remove whatever pains they suffered from their previous provider but it will come at your price. If you’re confident in yourself, your pricing and your organization, the prospect just might become confident in you, too.

Mike Voories, CSP, is chief operating officer at Brilar, a commercial landscape & snow maintenance firm with locations across the Midwest. He also is a consultant to the service industries. Contact him at mvoories@brilar.net.

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