We’ve all heard it many times before – “I’d really like to do this, but it’s too expensive. Can you offer me a deal?” The biggest issue facing newspaper salespeople these days is that our media competitors are quick to wheel and deal to make a sale; therefore demanding deep discounts has become the norm for many advertisers.

But, I’m here to let you in on a little secret. Regardless of the industry, top sales professionals are very seldom the ones offering the lowest price. They have learned that most prospects start out being price-conscious but end up being value-conscious. Value is the emotional combination of price, quality and service. It is the salesperson’s responsibility to influence and educate prospects as to why their product or service offers the best value for their dollar.

Throughout previous editions of The Sales Cycle, I’ve tried to reinforce that you must focus on the prospect; it’s not about you, it’s all about them. At this step in the sales process, as you overcome a multitude of objections (including price) the prospects are saying to themselves “What’s in it for me? Why should I do business with you?” The answers you provide can make or break your opportunity to close this sale. The prospect needs to be presented with benefits of why it’s smart to do business with you – the answer is not to continue pushing features of your products and services. Rarely is a feature worth the price, but it is possible that a single benefit can justify the investment if value is effectively defined.

Here are a few strategies you can use to lessen the influence that price will have on a buying decision and prevent yourself from automatically cutting a deal to get the sale. Every dollar is precious, so why simply give them away?

1.      Price-Benefit Ratio: The prospect’s buying decision will be based on perceived value in relation to price.  Keep in mind that this perception is not in the product itself, but in the mind of the prospect. Deflect the focus from the price by presenting the prospect with enough reasons to buy. Help to make them think AND believe that they will receive the most benefits from their advertising dollars by doing business with you. Assure them that you, as a trusted business advisor, will do everything you can to assist them in achieving their business goals.

2.      Buying Is An Emotional Process: We’ve all been there – we want something so badly we’ll do anything to get it. However, your prospect may also be objecting to your recommendation based on past negative experiences involving service, quality, or lack of ROI. Make sure you ask questions to find out about a prospect’s past dissatisfaction and then explain to them exactly how you plan to ensure it will not happen if they do business with you.

3.      Justify Your Price: There is nothing wrong with your price being higher than your competitors so long as your prospect feels it is justified in terms of value and benefits being offered. The most effective way to justify price is by adding additional benefits. Before your prospect says “yes” you’ll be responsible for justifying your price; offer additional value until the equation makes sense to the prospect.

4.      Sell Visions and Ideas: Not Just Products or Services: Long term strategies trump short term risks. Sell an ad schedule, not just an ad. Successful marketing comes from creating frequent and timely top-of-mind awareness with consumers; this cannot be accomplished with a single ad or insert. Paint the big picture for your prospect and allow them to see the benefits that can come from believing in your ability to help them not only now, but in the future.

All told, you cannot lose sight of the fact that holding firm on price alone does make you vulnerable if one of your competitors comes along and offers a lower price for comparable products or services. Combat this by focusing on the relationship, effectively aligning features and benefits, defining the value of your recommendation, and ensuring the prospect that you are on their “team” – with the ultimate goal of helping them achieve their business goals. There are no guarantees in life, but it’s not unreasonable for your customers to expect 110% effort from you when they finally sign on that dotted line and give you the sale.

Have a terrific week,

If there are specific topics you’d like to see discussed in a future issue of The Sales Cycle, please contact me at 612-278-0223 or