“You’re too expensive!”
“I can’t afford that right now.”
“It’s way above my budget.”
“Someone else is charging much less!”
If you’ve been involved in sales for more than a week and a half, odds are, you’ve probably come across those particular words at least once in your career. In fact, if you’re like most of us, you’ve likely heard them a thousand times and counting.
These are words that can be difficult for service-based business owners to respond to. Most of us are not too comfortable with selling in the first place. And when someone questions how much you’re charging for your services, it can dent your confidence and make you doubt yourself.
Let’s start with how you shouldn’t respond…
Don’t automatically assume you’ve lost this client.
When you hear these words – recognize it as an indication that you’re at the start of the sales journey with somebody who might actually be interested in what you have to offer.
It’s just that there’s still some work you need to do to help them arrive at the right decision for them.
Don’t immediately lower your pricing out of panic when someone says you’re too expensive, otherwise they’ll assume that you were over-charging to begin with. That’s not what you want. And you’ll miss a chance to open a dialogue that can lead to a better understanding of your client’s requirements and concerns.
Don’t defend yourself
At the end of the day, it’s your business. You don’t have to defend yourself or your prices unless you want to. Just as your client has the right to object to your prices, you have the right to stand by them. This is especially the case if you are happy with your current workload.
Don’t take it personally
Objections around price are just part and parcel of the everyday business negotiation, so don’t take it personally. It’s not about you. In fact, think of it this way… if you’ve never been told you’re too expensive, you’re probably not charging enough!
Tips on how you can respond
1. Start a conversation
The good news is that when someone says you’re too expensive, it needn’t always be the end of the conversation. Often, when a potential client mentions your pricing, it’s a signal that they want to buy from you, but may need some convincing in order to overcome their reasons for hesitating.
These objections may have nothing to do with your price and everything to do with where they’re at. Sometimes they’re either not 100% committed to a particular course of action, e.g. they may just be price shopping, or they may simply be using price as an easy way out for not wanting to buy.
Whatever the case, by asking your client a few simple questions in a non-aggressive way and listening to their concerns, you can find out if they really want to work with you, or are using price as an excuse.
2. Acknowledge that you’re expensive
Communicate to your clients the real value of your work, the processes and time involved to help them get results. Explain to them that it’s taken years of dedication for you to build your expertise and knowledge in your field. So yes, you are expensive. But if you can convey the true value of what you do, then your clients will realise that your services are worth the price tag.
3. Focus on the return on investment (ROI)
One of the common reasons is that they don’t understand the values/benefits of your offerings. Focusing on the ROI and the results you’ll help them achieve is key.
Say to your client:
- “You reached out to me because you need help with [XYZ]. I’m confident that I can help you.”
- “What would it mean to you if I can help you solve the [XYZ] problem immediately?”
- “How much time/money/stress will you save if I can help you with [XYZ]?”
You can also share the results and testimonials from past clients you’ve helped to achieve similar results, to demonstrate the value of what you’re charging.
4. Ask yourself: “Is this my ideal client?”
If not, let them know you might not be the best fit for them and recommend someone else that would be a better match.
If the person is your ideal client, you’ll have to explain and show them the quality and value of your work with a bit more dialogue and a closer look at their actual requirements and what you can do to help them.
5. When a client genuinely can’t afford you
If a client genuinely can’t afford you (yet!), ask them what budget they have in mind. You can then offer a reduced solution to match their lower budget if you want to. If their budget is too low, then politely tell them you’re not a good fit right now. Be firm but nice and keep in touch with them – the situation may change further down the line.
6. Find out what “too high” really means
Start by acknowledging the objection and showing the customer that you appreciate them sharing it with you.
This can be as simple as saying something like “thanks for sharing that with me,” “I appreciate you noticing that” or “I appreciate your honesty.” Giving them a small compliment helps them to feel good about asking the question and reassures them that you’re both on the same side.
Remember, the client has every right to raise any objections or make any comments they want. The worst thing we can do is to try to justify our position or defend our prices. As lawyers have known for centuries, nothing makes an innocent person look guiltier than trying too hard to protest their innocence.
Instead, the very best sales people look their clients square in the eye and say, “you’re right; our prices aren’t the lowest in the market. How much too high are we?” or “what do you mean by too high?” You can even just repeat the statement “too high?” and wait for the client to fill in the blanks.
By acknowledging the validity of their objection, you’re turning a potentially costly confrontation into a sincere invitation to work together towards a solution that will be beneficial for both of you. More importantly, by being so straightforward, you stand a better chance of finding out exactly what the difference is between the price you quoted and the figure the client has in mind.
Important things to remember about pricing
Pricing is subjective
What one person considers expensive is often deemed affordable by another.
But it isn’t just one person’s perception of the price that influences the subjectivity of price; other circumstances can affect it too. Subjective pricing was a topic of interest for Richard Thaler, an economist who found that the perception of prestige swung the subjectivity scale for most people.
He tested the theory using bottles of Budweiser. Thaler found that people were happy to pay a higher price for a bottle of ‘Bud’ if it was from a top-notch hotel. And they expected to pay less at a run-down corner shop. It’s a perfect example of how positioning can influence the subjectivity of the prices you command (and the ease of the sale).
Beware of projecting your perception of price onto your customers
No two customers are the same, and many won’t align with your personal pricing values. Bearing this in mind will help you to remain reflective when considering your response the next time somebody tells you ‘you’re too expensive.’