Put Price in its Place31

Price continues to be the boogie man for many sales people; soft economies just serve to compound and heighten the situation giving buyers an obvious lever in sales negotiations.  But it doesn’t have to be that way, and that is not just me trying to be enthusiastic and up beat, it is a fact, unfortunately a fact that sales people don’t use to its maximum impact.

Survey after survey of buyers, show that when asked for reasons they buy from the companies they buy from ongoingly, show that price is rarely in the top three, in some cases it is not in the top five.  Given that, I ask why sales people choose to focus on price, when there are clearly other factors buyers rank higher than price.  Let me state right here that at times things are said in response to surveys that don’t always correlate to behaviour when buyers are in buying mode, but there is also enough evidence to show that price is not top of  the list unless it truly is a commodity; even then I have worked with people selling commodities who have been able to leverage the other reasons/factors on the list above price.

As with all things worth doing in sales, there is some work involved, despite what some soothsayers will tell you, there is no silver bullet in sales.  First, identify those things above price, and those item that help balance or neutralize price.  You can start with checking out “How to Sell at Margins Higher Than Your Competitors : Winning Every Sale at Full Price, Rate, or Fee“.  You need to also understand why it is people buy from you and your company, which is easy if you get into the practice of not just doing won/loss/ND reviews, but also to go back to the buyers who went with you and ask them straight out what factors impacted their decisions.  Clearly you want to lead with the ones that are working and address to alter those that are working against you.

While not universal, you’ll find that serious long term buyers, especially those who understand that a healthy supplier makes for quality products and satisfied downstream customers.  Yes everyone wants to economize, but that does not equal low prices.  It is up to the sales person to help the client understand why the price equals relative value, not an absolute number.  Most sales people are familiar and speak to the concept of “total cost of ownership”, but do not a complete job in engaging the buyer with it.  Often laying out the story but not filling in all the pieces, making the assumption that the buyer will recognize the advantages, they don’t, that is our job.  It may take work each time, but it will pay dividends every time, both by helping you close more of the right buyers, but also in eliminating price shoppers.

Next Steps

  • Find out what your existing customers value beyond price
  • Develop a process for raising and leveraging things you uncover in the above point
  • Lead the process rather than hoping the buyer will put everything on the table in a neat way

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto


  1. Marc Zazeela

    Good article and good food for thought.

    “Survey after survey of buyers, show that when asked for reasons they buy from the companies they buy from ongoingly, show that price is rarely in the top three, in some cases it is not in the top five.”

    If I understand this thought, buyers were asked why they continue to buy from the same supplier and they answered as such. What about the buyer who has not bought from you before? Buying on an ongoing basis happens because they have recognized the value in what you do. Until you work with them, any value discussions are simply hearsay in their minds.

    Much easier to show value to a customer than to a prospect.


    • admin


      Thanks for your comment.

      As a sales person you should be able to take what you know from existing clients, and apply them to new prospects. For example, if the last eight plant managers you sold to placed a higher value on R&D and willing to pay a premium for that, then I think it is safe to use that as a talking point with the next plant manager you prospect.

      It is a question of putting knowledge to work.



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