Too often sales reps and sales leaders come to me and say – our business is all about pricing. Our business is different and we have to play in this price sensitive environment. I will listen and ask them about their business and what makes it all about price. I then say to them – “It is not the customer who makes it about price – it is the sales rep who makes it about price”. That statement is always good for some real push back and arguments from sales reps and their leaders.

Why does your customer or prospect buy from you?

I ask this question in Strategic Account Management teaching: What do our customers value? I get the class to provide all the things that their customers look for when making a buying decision. Depending on the size of the group I can fill one, two or three flip charts with the words that describe what the customer is looking for from the sales person and his company.

Here is the interesting thing. Many times price is not even one of the things that is given as a reason. Some of the things that are listed are: value, trust, knowledge, service, capabilities, national coverage, brand, technology, honesty, delivery, industry status etc. If price comes up many times it is qualified as competitive pricing.

What causes the sale to be all about price……….

My observation over the years is that when a rep is not prepared, when a rep is lazy, when a rep knows nothing about the customer, then all they have to talk about is price. If this is allowed to go on then the rep has nowhere to go except to discount and win the deal on the best price. And some customers rely on this as a strategy to deal with sales people.

A consulting firm I know surveyed 1000 Canadian CEO’s two years ago. They asked: “What are the criteria you look at when making a buying decision. The first criterion was “trust”. Number six on the list was “price”. Price is not the deciding criteria. So why do reps make it the deciding criteria? Because the customer doesn’t trust the rep and the rep doesn’t know what is important to his customer.

What happens when you take price out of the equation………

I say to reps that when they go on a first call with a customer or prospect – take in a blank piece of paper and an open mind, and you can’t talk about your product or price. The only thing left to talk about is the customer and their business as it relates to your industry. Now you must be prepared, must know what questions to ask and be prepared to understand the customers business from their standpoint.

In my negotiation classes the biggest take away for reps is that if they are prepared and know what their position is, what their walk away position is and what their customers key success factors are, that they end up with a deal that works for both sides and that price takes a back seat to the deal – even when they think their industry is all about price. You see it is the reps who make deals all about price and who allow customers to make it all about price.

Do you have customers who want to make deals all about price – you sure do. The question is – “Do you want to keep doing business with them?” Is the business profitable? Do you spend the appropriate amount of time with this customer? Do you have a good relationship? If you struggle with these answers then you may want to rethink this piece of business.

Next time you are working on a deal with a customer or prospect, take price out of the equation and see what you are left with. If there is nothing left – What do you need to do? If you are honest, you will discover that you need to do some more work on the deal or that it is time to walk away from this particular deal!

Sayers Says………

Why are you making the business all about price? What do you know about your customer? Where is your level of trust with your customers? What is it that customers values most in each specific deal? How are you going to get your customer that value? If you take the price issue out of each deal what are you really left with?

Author's Bio: 

Bill Sayers speaks, coaches, leads education sessions and provides management consulting services to a variety of companies. Bill has been praised for his leadership, common-sense approach and ability to inspire sales people to new levels of success. His easy manner and strong public-speaking skills make him an engaging facilitator. Bill connects with senior executives and sales professionals alike, as he shares his real-life experiences and provides the appropriate tools and strategies for success in today’s business world.

Bill’s book Funnels & Forecasts – The Great Game of Sales is available on Amazon. Sayers Says: "This second edition was important for me. It has allowed me to have my book and its message sent out to a global audience. The feedback from readers has been that the book is an easy read and that there are lots of common sense advice and tools to help sales people be more successful in their sales game. Funnels and Forecasts - The Great Game of Sales will help sales people in their quest to improve their game."

He has been a professor at George Brown College teaching Personal Selling Skills to the Sports and Event Marketing Graduate Program, and is on the faculty of Canadian Professional Sales Association and Canadian Management Centre.

To receive our free “How are you Playing The Game” Scorecard and a 45 minute one-on-one session with Bill Sayers, email: or visit: .