The when and how of price presentation

When and how to present price is something all B2B salespeople think about. Even when your and your prospect’s price expectations are in the same ballpark, there are more, and less, persuasive ways of presenting price. And, as more often than not, the conventional wisdom falls into the ‘less’ category.

The when

There is general agreement that, in an ideal world, you leave price discussions until late in the sale – after the value of your solution has been established. The conversation goes like this:

“We’ve established your current set-up is costing you around £30K per year in lost production and you’d like to do something about that. We’ve discussed how our solution will help; the investment required is £20K. What will you do with the £10K you save each year?”

Job done!

Of course, we live in a less than ideal world and lots of potential buyers want at an idea of costs early in the discussions. It’s perfectly reasonable, if you have a £20K solution but the prospect only has a £5K budget you both need to know that as quickly as possible. You’re wasting each other’s time if you invest in a lengthy discovery process and only find out at the last minute you’re miles apart on price.

The how

If price must be presented early, before value has been fully established, the conventional wisdom is to ‘soften the blow’ by presenting the lowest price you can. It takes two forms, neither of which work.

From

In retail we are all used to seeing price presented as ‘From only £49.99’.  We all know ‘from’ actually means ‘more than’. In B2C that doesn’t matter, we know we’ll pay a bit more, but we don’t care. In B2B it’s a different matter. Early in the sale the buyer needs an indication of price to a) establish you’re close enough to have a worthwhile discussion and b) set a budget. Being told the price is ‘from £20K’ is totally unhelpful. More than £20K could mean £21K or £101K – or any other number you can come up with. The buyer is none the wiser and you will be seen as evasive and unhelpful – not a great start.

The range

Option two is to offer a range – ‘Between £20K and £30K’ which is almost as unhelpful as ‘from’. The buyer only hears the lower price, which is exactly what you want.  But, when you finally establish the price, if it’s anything higher than £20K, the buyer feels overcharged. It sours the relationship and invites an ill-tempered negotiation.

So how should you present price?

No more than

It may be counter-intuitive but the best way to present price is to start high – ‘no more than £30K’. For a start is creates an opportunity to exceed the buyer’s expectations, when you come in with a final price of £27K the buyer feels like they’ve saved £3K before they even start to negotiate – a far better place to begin.

It also has a positive effect on how the final price is agreed. Let’s take an example:

You provide office space and say to a prospect “prices start at £2K per month”. The buyer asks what the other options are, and you reply “£2.5K per month with air conditioning”. The buyer will then be thinking ‘do I want to pay an extra £500 for air-con?’ Their focus is on the price – what they have to give.

The alternative goes like this.

“Rents are no more than £2.5K per month” Again the buyer asks about options. Now, your response is “2K per month but that’s without air conditioning”. The buyer is now thinking ‘do I want to go without air-con?’, focusing on the solution – what they get. A far better place from your perspective.

So, the next time you’re asked about price be brave, start high. You may be very pleasantly surprised with where you end up.