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The pain imperative in sales


Selling is not all about price. This is a rampant excuse that salespeople use to justify not getting a deal. Low price is not essential to closing a deal. Price plays a role, but it's essential only if salespeople allow it to be.

Price becomes essential when we haven't provided anything else as criteria for buying,  sold any value, or better yet understand the “real” reason why people buy and the value attached to that. Pricing and value selling is only a component of the sale and can't be allowed to be the predominant one.

Before I opened my sales training business, I was fortunate to learn how to sell in the very competitive international chemical business. The products and services we sold were two to three times higher in price than the 1,700 companies we competed against. I was fortunate to dominate my competition in those 14 years as a top performer. Why? Was it because the 125 products and services we offered were so superior? Sometimes. Mostly, it had to do with my belief going in that price doesn’t matter. The more salespeople go to a sales call believing it’s about price, the  more their  sales call will end up being about price, period!

It's not unusual to lose a deal and find yourself thinking, "If only my price were lower, they would have gone with me." In most cases, that simply isn't true. If it were, every time someone bought a product or service, they would buy lowest. And by the way, selling on low price creates another problem. There is always someone “cheaper” to beat your low price that you sell on.

If it was all about price, in a retail environment stores would carry one brand of every object because there would not be anyone that would buy a different brand. In reality, we have a multitude of choices because people see value in products that are more expensive. When was the last time you saw expensive products or services sold with an apology for why they were higher than their competition?

As salespeople, we have ways of adding value to a product or service. To use price as an excuse is equivalent to saying, "I utterly failed in this sales process because I was unable to show any value in my product or service to the prospect.” But everyone preaches selling value, right? I propose salespeople understand more about what really motivates people to buy versus just selling value. People buy for two major reasons. One to move away from pain, or toward pleasure. I call it "Pain or Gain," and moving away from pain is often more motivating.

Bring value to the solution to solving what I call the prospect's “pain”, and stop selling on price. Ask questions and discover the compelling reasons why someone wants or needs your product or service to solve that “pain”. Price will not be essential if you sell a solution to that pain.

Focus on value associated with your pain solution, and don't trick yourself into the cutting price game. Sales is about selling value and solutions to pain, not about the price. When a prospect needs a solution “now” to their pain, and a salesperson knows how to help their prospects discover this, prospects do not shop on price. When was the last time you saw someone compare emergency room prices when they are in pain?

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Gary Harvey

Gary Harvey is the founder and president of Achievement Dynamics, LLC, a high performance sales training, coaching and development company for sales professionals, managers and business owners. His firm is consistently rated by the Sandler Training as one of the top 10 training centers in the world. He can be reached at 303-741-5200, or gary.harvey@sandler.com.


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