Great salespeople know that talking about money is an important skill. When the salesperson can align the price of the need or want with the budget or perceived value, closing the sale is easy. The best salespeople are comfortable talking about money. They have a positive attitude when asking questions to understand the cost of the problem and the depth of commitment to change.
First Discover The Problem
It doesn’t make any difference in what you are selling, unless there is a compelling reason to buy there won’t be a sale. So great salespeople ask questions to get the prospect talking about a problem the salesperson can solve. Since the prospect has committed to having a conversation with you they probably have a problem (or want or need or pain) they think you can solve. Your goal as a salesperson is to get the prospect to define the problem. (For more how to discover a problem click here.)
Next Find Out What The Problem Is Costing
Here the great salesperson starts talking about money. True there are other “costs” to having the problem: emotional, ego, pride, fear, etc. And it’s important to understand these as drivers for the prospect to make a change. But you, great salesperson, need to get paid for the work you will do to solve the problem. Currently we get paid in money. Yes, we get an emotional reward as well but not unless we convince the prospect to pay us to solve the problem or fulfill the need.
So to find out what the problem is costing we ask questions about the cost of having the problem:
Salesperson: How much does it cost to operate a manual machine?
Buyer: Well we have two full time operators so labor is the most expensive part at $150,000 per year
S: What is the production rate of the machine?
B: About 100,000 units a year
S: How well does production match demand?
B: With overtime and some weekend work we can just meet demand most of the time.
S: Have you ever lost business because of capacity to deliver?
B: Occasionally we can’t fill an order on time. And we certainly can’t take on any new customers.
S: What does it cost you when you can’t meet demand?
B: Well that depends but last year we figured we lost about 10% of sales because of capacity problems.
S: So what was the value of lost sales?
B: I’d say about $100,000.
S: If you had the capacity to meet demand then you would have gotten $100,000 in sales. And if you increased capacity, perhaps your cracker jack sales team would get you more business?
B: That’s true.
See how the salesperson leads the buyer to the conclusion that the problem is significant enough to make a change and understand the cost of “staying the same”. Great salespeople keep asking questions until the prospect defines the cost of having the problem.
Talking About Money Includes Discussing The Benefit Of Change
After the salesperson leads the buyer to define the cost of the problem, they continue talking about money. Now in terms of the benefit of changing:
Salesperson: So let’s see if I have this right. Your labor costs now are $150,000 per year and you lose $100,000 in sales. Right?
Buyer: That’s right. I see where you are going. The full cost of our situation is $250,000 per year.
S: What’s the expectation for payoff of capital purchases?
B: We want a return in 5 years or less.
S: If there were a way to increase production and reduce cost, for less than $50,000 per year, would you be interested?
B: Maybe. Show me what you have in mind.
There you are, great salesperson. You have the buyer defining the budget you have to work with. In this example, $50,000 per year. And they are interested in what your solution to the problem is. Great salespeople then can use the budget to make a presentation and get the order.
Be Comfortable Talking About Money
When the salesperson doesn’t feel comfortable talking about money the buyer will feel it. So you need to believe in the value you bring to the sale. If you would never spend $100,000 for a car, you may have trouble selling luxury cars. My friend and mentor Jim Wilson puts it this way:
In the world of selling, money is often considered a problem when the real problem is the salesperson’s attitude about money. It might just be time to change the way you think about money.
- What seems like a lot of money to you may be pocket change to someone else.
- People go to great extremes to solve problems and eliminate discomfort.
- People open up their checkbooks to eliminate pain and to avoid pain in the future.
- Don’t let your parents’ attitudes about money restrict your sales potential.
- Don’t judge how much is too much. Let your prospect decide.
- When the emotional needs are high, people will find the money.
- In sales, money is strictly conceptual.
So great salespeople lead the prospect to talk about money forgetting their own bias.
What You Can Do Right Now Talking About Money
- List all the problems you solve with your products or services
- Create a list of questions to help buyers understand what the problem costs
- Check your own attitude about money to make sure it is not an impediment