The "Price Complaint"

May 1, 2008
At this point we've covered the steps to running a successful service call. You've established your own personal credibility, the need, the sense of urgency, explained your pricing, quoted more than the bare minimum, included a service agreement as part of the list of things that need to be done above the first subtotal of your "Paper Towel Close" and gone for your initial close.

At this point we've covered the steps to running a successful service call.

You've established your own personal credibility, the need, the sense of urgency, explained your pricing, quoted more than the bare minimum, included a service agreement as part of the list of things that need to be done above the first subtotal of your "Paper Towel Close" and gone for your initial close.

The customer responds that your price is too high. Now what?

Is it the "price objection," or the "price complaint"?

When comments about money start, the first thing you need to do is determine whether it's the "price objection" or the "price complaint."

There are people who will always complain about having to spend money, regardless of whether or not they're getting a good deal. That's the "price complaint." The "price complaint" is easier than the "price objection."

The "price objection" means that they invest in the product or service, but will more than likely buy it from someone they feel is offering a lower price.

You don't want to start right in with your "overcoming the price objection" techniques until you're absolutely certain that it is, the "price objection" and not the "price complaint."

In this newsletter I'll cover the responses to the price complaint.

Price complainers are usually satisfied with:

• An indication of understanding and agreement on your part that it's painful to deal with unexpected and unwanted expenses

• Reassurance that they're making the right decision

• A hope for a better tomorrow.

The Responses:

Here are some easy-to-learn responses I use when the customer starts complaining about having to spend money.

The "Compassionate Response":

Sometimes, when you quote a price, instead of staying on topic and responding directly for your request for a decision, the customer launches into a rather depressing list of everything bad that's happened to them over the past few years.

They might say something like, "Everything always happens to me at once. First the roof started leaking on me, then the stove quit working. My son-in-law's been arrested, my refrigerator is giving me trouble, my cancer is kicking up on me, my juicer is broken and the dog just died. Now this."

What are you gonna say? Why not just be a human being and tell them the truth?

“I know it's a lot of money, and I'm sorry that this happened to you, but on the bright side, once I'm done (working on it), it will be running a lot better than it has in a long time (OR, in the case of a replacement sale, "you can put all your service problems behind you"), and as long as you keep it maintained, you can avoid a lot of expenses like this in the future.”

As you can see, this response provides them with everything listed in the bullet points above.

The majority of the time the conversation ends right there, and they make a decision to buy, but it doesn't always. Occasionally, they need a little more time and reassurance; then you go on to the next response.

The "Commiseration Response":

Misery loves company, so commiserate with them.

“I know it's expensive. It's expensive to own a home with central plumbing, electric, heating and air conditioning. It's expensive to run a service company. We've got all these trucks that use all this gas and have to carry all kinds of insurance and all kinds of parts. Our expenses just keep going up and up. We do everything in our power to keep our overhead as low as possible to keep our prices down, but yes, it's expensive. “

"What is your hourly rate?"

That question is a veiled price objection or complaint waiting to happen. When they ask what you're charging by the hour, again, tell them the truth.

We got away from charging by the hour. We felt it was unfair to our customers. When you charge by the hour, different customers pay different prices for the exact same work done by the exact same tech, and a tech can work slower on some days than on others. So we sat down and decided on a set price for everything we do that would allow us to provide reasonable rates while maintaining our level of service. That's how we came up with our prices.

"How long will this take?"

That's the set-up for an ambush for a price objection. They're waiting for you to give them an amount of time, do the math in their heads, then say, "Why, that's $600 an hour. Doctors don't make that much!"

If pressed, I will give them a time-frame, but only if I can't avoid doing so. I feel it's better to provide them with a response that offers a little reassurance as well. I say, "I do this every day, so if things go well, it won’t take very long."

You know that if you work what they consider to be too fast, this comment can also come up after the work is completed. A way to circumvent that from occurring is to use the longer version, "If things go well, disappointingly little time. I hope you won't penalize me for having done this before."

That response could be delivered in a smart-alecky tone of voice, which is not what you want to do. Instead, make them realize they've got an experienced, efficient professional working for them.

Repeating the objection in the form of a question:

As long as the customer is actively involved in the conversation, you're still in the game.

You don't sell by giving information (talking). You sell by gaining information (listening).

Usually, the more talking the customer does, the easier they are to close. When you get really good at listening, you'll learn that most people will tell you exactly how to close them.

When they say, "Your price is too high," repeat the objection to them in the form of a question. Ask, "My price is too high?" then remain absolutely silent. The whole key to this technique is not the question itself, it's your silence after asking it.

If you're quiet, they'll start talking, and what they'll usually do is start free associating.

One of three things will happen:

1. They'll talk themselves into buying.

2. They don't talk themselves into buying, but do tell you what needs to be said or done on your part for them to buy.

3. The whole technique falls flat on its face and you have to go on to the next one.

Seeking a smaller commitment:

You've quoted more than the bare minimum. Certain things need to be done immediately, while other things can be put off for the time being.

A good salesman never goes for a close without some lower-cost alternate offer in mind.

Taking that into consideration, you can ask, "How much money did you want to spend today?"

They'll respond with, "As little as possible."

Say, "Gimme a number."

They'll respond with a ridiculously low number, which is fine. If you've quoted more tasks than the bare minimum, you can take a few off and probably be able to conduct business.

Without saying a word or responding in any way, pull out your calculator (I make it a point to have both my calculator and a pen in my hand when I go into my closing procedure) and do the math on your diminished offer.

Do a little summary, like, "Well, this and this have to be done, and the cheapest way to do that is with the service agreement, so I'll leave that in. That means I'll be back within the next twelve months at no additional charge. I'll make a note of these things and we can address them in the future ... and, I'll always charge you to the least amount of money possible."

Show them the calculator and say, "There you go. That's the least amount of money I could charge you today."

This technique shows you're willing to bend a little and work with them to accommodate their specific needs, wants and desires. Most people like that.

These are the responses to get you past the easy ones. If they don't buy at this stage of the game, the situation graduates from the "price complaint" to a full-blown "price objection." I'll cover those in a future newsletter.

CHARLIE GREER is the creator of "Tec Daddy's Service Technician Survival School on DVD," and "Slacker's Guide to HVAC Sales on Audio CD." For information on Charlie's products and speaking schedule, visit his website at> or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email Charlie at [email protected].