Trust Tip 51:When They Say You’re Too Expensive

You know what it’s like.  You dread it.  You’re still not sure just how to handle it.  “It” is mentioning price, and getting this reaction:

• “Frankly, that’s just not in line with what we are thinking.”
• “Uh, that’s gonna be a little too expensive. A lot, actually.”
• Raised eyebrow…pained look…

Most sales books call this an “objection.” But “objection”—to most of us—sounds like a debate, or a trial.  It seems to call for a counterpunch, or a way to “overrule” the objection.

Instead, think of it as a cry for help.  Here’s someone who sounded pleased at the prospect of buying something, until—they felt a roadblock.  The name they give the roadblock is “price”—but they themselves often don’t know what that means.  They need your help.

You don’t know what it means either—but you know it’s one of five things.

a. That’s more than I had expected, I’m disappointed;
b. That’s more than we had budgeted for;
c. This [product/service] is not worth that much to us;
d. That’s more than your competitors have been quoting us;
e. I will not pay more than the lowest price anyone else pays.

In certain situations, every one of these meanings can be overcome.  In others, any one of them can shut down the sale.

Your job is not to get the sale.  Your job is to help the client figure out what “too much” means, and then jointly arrive at the right answer.  Which may include a sale for you—or not.

The point is to do the right thing for the customer—that starts with helping clarify what “too much” means.

How do you clarify which meaning the customer intended?  Well, you could print this blog out , carry it with you, and hand it to the customer.  Or jot down the list.  Or read it aloud.

The point is to honestly say, “look, there could be several meanings to what you just told me.  Please help me narrow it down, and let’s talk about it.”  Then talk about it—as if you were trying to help a friend decide.

The trust principles of collaboration and transparency apply here.  If you help them make the best decision, and are open in doing so, then you gain trust.  If you gain trust, you slightly improve your odds for this sale; but you go to the front of the line for when they do need what you have.

If it’s more than they expected, help them understand the market.

If it’s out of budget, explore the usual options—other funders? Next year’s budget?—and gracefully accept the answer, whatever it may be.

If it’s value, you can have a fine conversation about the source of value—and again gratefully accept the answer, whatever it may be.

If it’s about competitive perceptions, be as open as legally permissible, explain exactly how you price, how and why you discount. If you don’t have a good explanation, be prepared to gracefully accept…

Finally, if the customer just wants to get a “deal,” share as openly as you legally can just what your deals have been. Acknowledge and validate the need to “get a deal”—give them the best deal you can, and explain why it’s the best you can do.

Trust-based Selling doesn’t guarantee you the sale.  Of course, neither does hard-sell or bargaining techniques.  What it does do is greatly increase your chances of sales you should be getting—both current and future.  Not to mention helping your clients.

You become trusted by becoming trustworthy—worthy of trust. And you do that by always doing the right thing for the customer.

0 replies
  1. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    I know, from my experience, that "cost" can also be a red herring, an ostensible objection…while the root cause of the "objection" is fear – fear of what the coaching/consulting process might uncover…so not sure they really, really want to experience any potential "pain or discomfort", and having "second thoughts", the easy way out for a potential client is to point to cost.  

    In such circumstances, it’s important that I be able to read the energy and be discerning here to explore what the issue truly is…cost or something deeper.

  2. Maureen Rogers
    Maureen Rogers says:

    Sometimes the problem is that your product/service is actually priced well above its value and market dictates. I’ve been in several situations where we had to price high because of our cost structure, then struggled mightily to convince people that it was worth it. You can always convince some folks, but in the end it’s a recipe for disaster.

  3. isabella mori
    isabella mori says:

    as always, a fine post. 

    here’s a bit of my experience.  for a while, i was quite rigid about my price.  then i realized that by doing that, i was cutting out people who i really want to work with.  now, when someone is interested in my services and honestly has a hard time paying, i simply ask them, well how much can you afford?  so far, i have always been able to come to an agreement.  i trust my prospective client to think honestly about this, and i trust that one way or another, i get to work with the clients with whom i’m meant to work, and i trust that financially, it’ll all work out one way or another.

  4. Charlie (Green)
    Charlie (Green) says:

    Isabella—you raise a fine point, and one I haven’t yet sorted through fully—so let me put it out there to readers.

    The question in my mind is, what is the right balance between;

    a. the desirability of setting clearly defined prices up front, with clear guidelines for discounts or premiums, and

    b. the desirability of adjusting price to meet clear client needs, a la Isabella’s point.

    They both sound like fine goals; how to mediate?

  5. peter vajda
    peter vajda says:

    Good question (Charlie/Isabella). What works for me. At the beginning of the year, I calculate how much I want/need to earn. Based on that calculation, I then decide how many clients I need to pay full ride, how many I can charge a discount and how many I can work with pro bono. It doesn’t always work out exactly or that neatly, and I have to juggle sometimes, but I do have a better conscious sense of when I can reduce a fee or do pro bono work to work with someone with whom I really want to work with but who may not be able to pay full fare. 

  6. Dave Prouhet
    Dave Prouhet says:


    Here is my 2 cents for Isabella…having developed custom software, they want the champaign, but can only afford the beer. So the level of service gets downgraded. However, in my opinion – I would define and stick to your core clients as modifying wastes focus energy. Unless of course you are starting up and the potential client is worth more than their money (i.g. reference, customer quote, etc) Dave


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