Name the Number. Say It.

Posted by on December 6, 2010

The single biggest mistake made in face-to-face selling is the seller’s reluctance to name the price. 

When your customer asks, “How much?” the next syllable to leave your lips should be the first digit of a number.

“But you don’t understand. That’s just not possible in my business. We have to gather some information before we can name a price.”

Piffle and pooh. This is not true.

“Okay then, Smarty-pants, ‘How much is a 1-carat diamond?’”

Twenty thousand dollars is the most I’ve ever heard of anyone paying for a flawless, colorless, ideal-cut, 1-carat diamond but I can also get you a highly-flawed 1-carat diamond for about a thousand dollars but I doubt you’re looking for either of those. A truly beautiful 1-carat diamond – the kind you can really be proud of – usually costs between 29 hundred and 39 hundred dollars depending on the specific combination of color, clarity and cut you choose. Some shoppers fixate on color, others on clarity, others on cut, some try to balance all three. Have you made any hard-and-fast decisions about color, clarity and cut, or are you open to a couple of suggestions?

See how easy that was?

If you want to:

1.     reduce your customer’s anxiety and

2.     increase your customer’s confidence in you and

3.     elevate their attention and

4.     make them feel comfortable and in control,

just train yourself to listen for the price question and then, when you hear it,

1.     be sure no sound leaves your lips before you

2.     take a breath and

3.     spit out the price.

The reason you take a breath is because you aren’t going to pause before you explain all the cool stuff that’s included at no extra charge.  Once a price is on the table, customer anxiety is eliminated and the longer you list things included in that price, the cheaper the price becomes.

“What do you mean, ‘customer anxiety is eliminated?’”

Customers feel a bit anxious when they ask the price because that’s usually the salesperson’s cue to launch into attack-and-destroy mode. “Here, step into my office and fill out this customer information sheet. Tell us a little about yourself so we can serve you better. And be sure to include your email address and cell phone number.”

“We don’t do anything like that. We just want to list all the features and benefits before we name the price.”

So I’m assuming your customer asks, “How much is the mobile home next to the road?” and you say, “What a good eye you have! That’s an authentic Northfield mobile home with 6-inch stud walls, wood burning fireplace, vaulted ceilings, color coordinated draperies, built-in appliances and wall-to-wall carpeting. That mobile home is fully air-conditioned, has an R-40 insulation value, comes with a 5-year limited warranty and…” Something like that?

“Yeah, sort of.”

When you leave the price question dangling in the air like that – twisting in the wind like a man hanged for stealing chickens – the customer won’t hear anything you say until you finally cut that hanged man down by naming a price. The longer you talk before you finally name a number, the more your customer thinks, “These clowns have a horrible price and they know it or they would answer my question.”

“Well, okay, but how about those times when the customer knows exactly which make and model they want and prices are easily compared but your company adds a bunch of intangibles and you need to make sure the customer recognizes the value of those intangibles? If you name the price right away, they’ll just say, ‘Thank you,’ and walk away and you’ll never have the chance to explain why your price is higher than the price of that cut-throat, lying, cheating, thieving, drug-dealing whore of a competitor down the street.”

Give me an example. Ask me the question that scares you most.

“What’s your best price on the new Northfield Tierra del Sol mobile home? And before you answer, we want you to know that we’ve already checked the price at 7 other authorized Northfield dealers.”

Forty-two thousand six hundred and twelve dollars which includes at No extra charge: Delivery, Tie-down, Set-up, Floor Leveling and reinforcement in 28 key points so your floor never sags or squeaks – and we supply all the labor and materials by the way – and we connect your new Tierra del Sol home to your water meter and septic system so you don’t have to call a plumber and then our carpenters construct a 6 by 12 foot redwood front porch for you at no extra charge and build a 20 by 20 foot redwood back deck at no charge and, finally, a beautiful 2-car carport – your choice of whether it’s attached to the home or free standing. Oh, and I almost forgot: we also deliver and set up a Weber gas barbecue grill and put 20 pounds of USDA Choice rib-eye steak in your freezer as a little housewarming gift.

See what I mean when I say, “the longer you list things included in the price, the cheaper the price becomes?”

Just take a breath and name a number. That breath gives you all the time you need to qualify the number you’ve just named.

Now go sell something.

Roy H. Williams

ONE LAST THING: There’s a little-known variation of this technique that makes fund-raising vastly easier and infinitely more effective. I’ll pop in and share that technique with the students of Manley Miller’s upcoming class at Wizard Academy, Fundraising for Non-profits, Churches, Politicians and Educational Institutions: The Definitive 12 Techniques, February 9-10

– Publisher Ray Bard, the original chairman of the board of Wizard Academy, reminisces about the origins of the school in this month’s Beagle Bugle.

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