Think Before You Speak
You are talking to a customer and after
you present your product, service or solution, she asks, "What
discount can I get?" or "What can you do about the price?" Think
before you speak otherwise this innocent-sounding question will cost
you money right off your bottom line. While it's tempting to offer a
discount or better price resist the desire to do so. Here's why.
First, just because someone asks you for a
better price, does not mean they expect to get it. Some people ask
for a discount because they have been told to. They are often
uncomfortable doing this and will seldom press the issue. However,
professional buyers and key decision-makers know that many sellers
will drop their price at the first sign of resistance so they ask
everyone for a discount-and they can be aggressive in their
approach. Plus, experienced negotiators lose respect for people who
drop their price too quickly. Standing your ground and refusing to
cave in right away is also a show of strength and executives respect
this type of behavior.
Second, when you drop your price too
quickly, you teach your customer to repeat that behavior in future
transactions. Remember, everything you do now affects your
customer's behavior toward you in the future. When I first started
my private practice, I gave a client a discount on a package of
services. The next time he contacted, he demanded that same discount
which put me in a somewhat precarious position-did I give the same
discount or risk losing the sale? A business executive once told me
that she knew which of her suppliers she could browbeat into giving
her a better price and she always took advantage of that perceived
weakness. So, what is the best way to respond to a request for a
discount or better price?
Professional negotiators will tell you to
flinch. A flinch is a visible reaction to a request or demand and
goes something like this, "You want a discount!?! Even though we
have been working together for four years and you know our services
will help you get better results you still want a discount?" When
coupled with the right facial expressions and body language, this
technique is extremely effective. However, I have found that most
people are extremely uncomfortable using this approach and even I
find it difficult to apply on a consistent basis.
An effective way to respond to a request
for a better price is to ask, "What did you have in mind?" or "What
were you looking for?" When you ask one of these questions, you get
the other person to tell you how much of a discount they want. In
many cases, their expectation will be less than you are prepared to
give which means you will increase the size of the sale and save
money at the same time-a double win. One word of caution here-an
experienced negotiator will say, "Well, I want a better price than
this" which means you need to be prepared to ask the question a
couple of times.
This also applies to email correspondence.
Many people will ask their sales person for a discount via email
which makes it next to impossible to use some of the standard
negotiating techniques. Before you respond by offering a better
price, take the time to properly craft your email. Here is what you
can say, "We might be able to do something for you. What did you
have in mind?" The key is to give the indication that you have
flexibility without committing to something you might regret later.
This sounds like an easy technique to use
but it's not. You have to train yourself to listen for your
customer's question and be prepared to respond with your own. I hate
to admit it but I have fallen for this question because I wasn't
expecting it. In one situation, an existing client asked me for a
package price on some bundled services. Instead of responding by
asking what price he was looking for, I automatically offered a
small discount. I kicked myself afterwards because I felt that I
should know better.
It is essential to listen carefully to
what your prospect says and to think before you speak. It is also
critical to practice asking your question until it becomes second-
nature so you can respond quickly when a prospect asks for a
discount or better price.
Read other articles and learn more about
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]