“Can You Do Any Better Than That?”

More and more salespeople are hearing this question as buyers look for ways to cut costs and get the best value for their money. This question is coming at a time when most sellers have already trimmed the fat from their prices due to competitive pressures and are hard pressed to “do any better” with their prices.

Still, as sales professionals, we must be prepared to deal with this question when it comes up, and it will come up more and more often.

Negotiation Versus Haggling

There are certain types of selling where price negotiations are expected, and pricing flexibility is the norm. Examples of this are vehicle sales, real estate (resale, not new), large-dollar sales with many variables impacting the price, multi-year purchases, etc. These types of sales have price negotiations as part of the selling process.

Most of us are in a situation where our pricing is more or less fixed, and the prospect is simply trying to get a better deal. This is considered “negotiating” by the prospect, but I consider it “haggling.”

Personally, I’m not a good negotiator (or haggler for that matter). I’m too fast at giving away all my negotiating points and usually get left holding the bag on a deal that any sensible person would turn down. Have you ever been there? I’ve learned that if there is any negotiating to be done, I’m best to leave that to my partner. She’s sharp, shrewd, and when it comes to money, she has a heart of steel.

Because I’m such a lousy negotiator, I make sure I don’t have to do it. As a matter of fact, I’m even uneasy haggling over prices so I’ve developed some techniques that I’ll share with you folks who share my discomfort.

Price Objections

There’s a big difference between the phrases, “Can you do any better than that,” and “You have to do better than that.”

In the first case, the prospect has probably already decided to buy and is simply trying to get a better price. We’ll talk about some strategies for dealing with this situation later in this article.

In the second case, the prospect is saying that the price is exceeding the perceived value. Here, the prospect isn’t convinced she or he should buy— period. This is perfectly natural. Why would anyone pay more for something than he feels it’s worth? This situation usually arises because the question of price has come up before the salesperson has had an opportunity to establish the value.

Many years ago, I had a situation where the prospect asked me, “How much?” and I knew if I told him he would tell me, “It’s too expensive!” (I’d been there before.) Instead of answering him I had a divine inspiration and said, “Before I tell you the price, would you give me $3,000 for my briefcase?” to which he replied, “Are you out of your mind!” I then said, “What if we looked into my briefcase and saw three gold bars worth $10,000 each. Would you give me $3,000 then?” “Of course,” he replied. I responded with, “That’s all I’m asking. That we look into what I’m offering before we discuss price.” He just laughed and we went on with the sale. I had to make sure I had the time to establish value before discussing price.

So, let me reiterate one more time. The major reason for the price objection ever coming up is failure to establish value before discussing or negotiating price.

Price Haggling

While haggling over prices is not as big a part of the North American culture as it is in some others, it does seem to be on the increase. Part of this is because money is tight and people want to get the best deal they can, and part is because the retail environment has conditioned the consumer to never buy unless something is on sale. Everything seems to be 25 percent off these days and the phenomenon has extended itself into the business-to-business sales arena where the stated price isn’t the price, just a starting point. Who hasn’t waited for a Black Friday sale before making a major purchase?

Let me make a couple of observations. First, as I mentioned earlier, price hagglers have usually already decided to buy and second, the person who wants to business with you can justify anything (including your price).

Your ability to build a rapport with your prospect, properly qualify her, and establish credibility, moves you a long way towards getting the prospect to want to do business with you.

With these two thoughts in mind (I.e., the prospect wants to buy, and she wants to do business with you), here’s how I respond to, “Can you do any better on price?”

“I really wish I could, unfortunately I can’t.”

That’s it! No apologies, just a simple statement.

Because I’m such a wuss, I’ll sometimes modify this approach by giving the prospect an out. For example, “I really wish I could, unfortunately I can’t. What I can do though is offer the following payment terms.”  Terms I can give away, but I hate giving away money.

You might try the following approach if you have some pricing flexibility, “Certainly I can give you a better price if you can… (state a condition to warrant a price reduction such as increased quantity, extended delivery, etc.)

Basic Rule for Price Reductions

Here’s The Sales Wizard’s rule for price reductions:

Don’t give away money without getting something in return.

Why Not Haggle?

If you drop your prices without getting something in return, what do you think is going to happen the next time you deal with that prospect? Yep! He’s going to want even more off.

Price what you’re selling fairly and honestly and stand by your prices. If you don’t believe your prices are fair, why would your prospect?

So, the next time someone says, “Can you do any better than that?” know exactly how you’re going to deal with it and do it professionally.