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The "HOW MUCH IS IT?" Question

“What should I do when a prospect asks the “HOW MUCH IS IT?” question? No matter how I answer, they never buy.”

The “How Much Is It” question can be a dangerous one for sales people to handle because there are different scenarios that this question can come up, and each one needs to be responded to a little differently in order to have greater success.

One popular scenario is this one:

You are making a cold call to a prospect that has already been contacted numerous times by your firm in the past. After your opening value statement (what you say after “Hello, my name is…”) the prospect cuts you off and asks: “How much is it?”
Now old school sales philosophy will say:
“This is a buying signal. Jump on it!”
But I totally disagree with that line of thinking. I know from first hand experience that when the “how much is it” question comes up right out of the gate, if I give a price, any price, I’m almost certain to hear “Can’t afford it (click)” followed by a dial tone.

SO WHAT DO I DO? HOW DO I RESPOND?

In tough sales situations, sometimes it’s better to list out the things that you DO know, in order to help you respond to a situation that you don’t know how to handle. Bear with me while I make my point.
Here’s what I DO KNOW from my perspective at this point in the sales call:

  1. I’m not sure if a need for our solution even exists yet. (They may not need what it is that I have to offer)
  2. I have not confirmed this prospects role in the decision making process. (he/she may not even be authorized to say “no”, let alone “yes”)

So knowing that I don’t know these two important details yet, I can quickly realize that getting into a pricing discussion will be nothing more than a shot in the dark. And I don’t like those odds.
A simple response like this has been very successful for me:

“(Prospects name) at this point I’m not asking for you to make a purchasing decision right now. I just wanted to ask you a few questions just to see if what we have to offer would be of any help to you. Would that be OK?”
If you get a “Yes, sure, go ahead” response, great. Go to your next step in the selling process.

BUT WHAT IF I GET A “NO” AND THEY ASK ABOUT PRICE AGAIN?

Here are a few choices that have helped me in that scenario:

OPTION 1: Ask “Do you know enough about our product/service that if the price is right, you would be ready to buy/register/order right now?” If the answer is YES, then you have a buying signal and you can move forward. If the answer is NO, then you need to gain permission to ask them a few questions in order to identify a problem as well as qualify them on their role in the decision making process.
OPTION 2: Say “Depending on a few factors, pricing will be anywhere from (now give a low and a high) but I would need to ask you a few quick questions first in order to get a more accurate number, would that be ok?”
OPTION 3: If you know the price they would have to pay, give it and follow it with a hint at an incentive “The price is $_____ HOWEVER should you decide this is something you truly want, we would do everything possible to not let price stand in the way of us earning your business. I would just need to ask you a few quick questions to make sure what we have to offer would be a good fit for you, would that be ok?”
Now, this doesn’t automatically mean I’m going to cut price. We can address that once we get to the negotiating phase. Right now, we are just trying to get past the opener phase. Once we legitimately get to the negotiation phase, there are other ways to offer an incentive without cutting price.

– Michael Pedone
Michael Pedone teaches outbound sales teams exactly what to say to get sales conversations started with hard to reach decision makers. He is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com – An online sales training company.

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