“The price may be high, as you say, but what about the cost?” The buyer does a doubletake. Quickly recovering he retorts, “What do you mean, the cost? I’ve just told you the price is high!” The salesperson (mechanic) has been here before; he knows the buyer sees price and cost as the same, yet they aren’t. So, he continues in a calm voice. “It’s true the price of this shock absorber is higher than the one you are comparing it too.” And so he contrasts them. “What I’m wondering is whether you are aware of the cost installing an inferior shock absorber comes with. A ‘shock’ isn’t just a ‘shock’.

A ‘shock’ isn’t just a ‘shock

“For instance, in the event of an accident, this shock absorber I’m selling you can save your life because it will absorb significantly more shock than this inferior one. Is that a cost you are willing to incur?” (He pauses for effect) On seeing the reaction of uneasiness, pain, on the buyer he continues. “Accidents aside, an inferior shock may put unnecessarily extra pressure on the coil springs making them wear and need replacement faster. Is this avoidable cost something you want to incur?” (Another pause) The buyer’s head is now spinning, and the seller knows the tide is turning in favour of the sale happening. Therefore, he overcomes the split-second tension and closes: “Let us install these ‘shocks’ and safeguard your life and your car.” He says this as he proceeds to do exactly that.

Price vs cost

Playing about with terminologies price and cost can help buyers make purchase decisions. Price is so objective and sensitive, it almost feels like you can touch it; like it’s tangible. The price objection is dreaded by the vast majority of salespeople and knowing this, buyers exploit it to their advantage. “You are asking for 100,000?! We will pay 70,000. Will you take it?”. Or, “itemize your pricing” (virtually impossible for the services industry); “Quote 50,000 and ‘we can talk’.’ Sometimes, they can blatantly reduce your quoted price to theirs and move along completely ignoring you. When you don’t confidently defend your stance, they validate their belief that you are the same as all the others (a commodity), or worse, that you were conning them. That’s the problem with price.

Difference in price and cost

Now cost is another matter altogether. Unlike price, cost is not in yours nor the buyer’s face. Like Wi-Fi you know, it’s just somewhere in the background but you don’t pay much attention to it. Until, it’s off. Until the accident happens. Until it is thrust into your face. Unfortunately, by then it can be expensive for the buyer. In the illustration shared, a life could have been lost, a body maimed or a coil spring that didn’t have to replaced, replaced. Successful salespeople, don’t wait for that. They instigate the issue; they boldly call cost to the buyer’s attention. And the response, “The price may be high, as you say, but what about the cost?” is a tidy way of doing so. (Incidentally, use the word but wisely when selling)

Price may be high, but what about the cost

“The price may be high, as you say, but what about the cost of dealing with multiple third-party suppliers?” The salesperson in logistics pauses for the buyer to think through this. How he has to deal with several suppliers because none has all the types of lorries he needs. The seller knows it’ll take but a few moments before the buyer’s face clouds in the pain of remembering why they contacted this one stop shop supplier.

The salesperson seeing this stretches the pain by reminding him of it. This is the cost he must make the buyer aware of. “How were your bonuses affected last year? And your employee morale?” You see, unlike price, cost does not necessarily have a currency. It could be price, yes, but it could also be an inconvenience, an unnecessary expense, a death, staff morale, reduced productivity, anything that buyer is not ‘seeing’ and your product will take away. Call it, if you please, the value you provide. Whatever you call it, or it is, just put it in his face.

After all, the price of you losing the sale may be high, but what about the cost?


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