Direct Marketing Article
Overcoming Price Resistance
By Bob Bly
In the movie Tin Men starring Richard Dreyfus and Danny DeVito, an aluminum
siding salesman goes into a car dealership to buy a new Cadillac.
"How much is it?" he asks the car salesman about the car he wants to buy.
"How much do you want to pay?" the car salesman asks back.
Disgusted by what is an obvious sales tactic, he replies sarcastically, "A
dollar ... I want to pay a dollar."
Many of us won't ask the prospect how much he or she wants to pay because we
feel that it is somehow sleazy, and that doing so will create an
But if you indeed did know how much your buyers wanted to spend, your sales
closing ratio would shoot through the roof – because you'd be quoting prices
you knew they could afford and were willing and prepared to spend.
How do you ascertain what the buyer wants to spend without the awkwardness
of asking outright?
When it's time to discuss price, ask the buyer, "Do you have a budget?"
Note that you are not asking "What is your budget?" You are instead asking
the much less threatening question, "Do you have a budget?"
The buyer can only give one of two answers: yes or no, with about half of
prospects saying yes and the other half saying no.
If the buyer says "yes," then you ask: "Would you mind sharing with me what
your budget is?"
Those prospects who tell you their budget have just given you the range
under which your price quotation must fall to be accepted.
But what if the buyer says, "No, we don't have a budget." Then you ask:
"Well, do you have a dollar figure in mind of what you would like it to
Even if they do not have a budget worked out, many people, when asked the
question in this way, will come back at you with an answer something like "I
was figuring to spend around $1,000 and not more than $3,000."
In effect, they really do have a budget -- $1,000 to $3,000 – but just never
wrote it down or said it out loud before.
A few people, however, will not share their budget no matter how you ask. "I
don't want to give you my budget," they will say. "I want you to tell me
what it will cost."
In such cases, use the "good, better, best" method of price quotation.
Let's say you are quoting on selling the prospect a half-acre lot with a
custom built home.
Instead of just quoting your top-end home, which is $500,000, you give the
prospect three options to choose from.
The first option, which you call "good," is a basic three-bedroom home with
a fireplace and unfinished basement. It is $300,000 - the cheapest you can
offer while still giving the buyer a decent home and yourself a decent
The second option, which you call "better," is the same home, but with a
finished basement and an added sitting room in the master bedroom suite. It
is $400,000 - your middle-of-the-road model.
The third option, which you call "best," is the same home as in the "better"
option but with top-of-the-line landscaping, a second fireplace, and a
fourth bedroom. It is $500,000 – your top-of-the-line model.
You outline all options for the prospect, including the prices. Then instead
of asking him whether he wants a home, you ask him, "Which do you want -
good, better, or best?"
This strategy increases the chances that your price quotation will fall
within the dollar amount the prospect wants to pay.
Also, very few people want the lowest-quality of three choices. So some
buyers who were looking to pay $300,000 will find a way to pay $400,000
(even if it means a bigger mortgage or borrowing from Uncle Joe) - and more
will select "better" over "good."
About the Author:
Bob Bly is an independent copywriter and consultant with more than 25 years
of experience in business-to-business, high-tech, industrial, and direct
marketing. He has written copy for over 100 clients including Network
Solutions, ITT Fluid Technology, Medical Economics, Intuit, Business & Legal
Reports, and Brooklyn Union Gas...and has won numerous industry awards. Bob
is the author of more than 70 books including The Complete Idiot’s Guide to
Direct Marketing (Alpha Books) and The Copywriter’s Handbook (Henry Holt &
Co.). Visit: www.BobBlyMarketingBooks.com