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Shelving the price issue

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A common complaint we hear from salespeople goes something like this: "Why is it that practically the first thing out of a new prospect's mouth is a price question? We barely get into introducing ourselves and they want to know what the best price is on the red one." It's true, early price questions are one of the typical "stalls" that can trip up even experienced sales consultants.  Why is that?  If the stall comes up that often why aren't we more prepared for it – or do we just prejudge the customer as "just another one of those tough price shoppers" and give up?

Why does price come up so early in the buying process? Well for years we have called that behavior the "Buyer's Plan" – Price first and Product second.  Prospects focus on price for several reasons: It's important in their buying decision, they fear paying too much, it's safer to ask a price question than a product question, and it's an effective way to test if you are a nice salesperson or not.  As with most "stalls" it is that little wall that they put up that really just says: "I don't know you, like you, or trust you – YET!"

So should we be that helpful salesperson and engage in price discussions on the lot? Yes to the helpful part but no to the price discussion. We really don't serve the best interests of the prospect by getting into price too early. We don't yet know their specific needs and preferences.  We don't know details about how they will use the new vehicle or what makes their old vehicle no longer suitable. Without this information we can't possibly make an appropriate vehicle recommendation or confirm that their selection is right for them.  Any price is too high on the wrong vehicle!  A positive purchase decision comes when price meets value. At the beginning of the buying process we have not yet shown value so a price discussion is ultimately doomed. 

So what can we do to respond to the price inquiry and still be that helpful and professional salesperson they are searching for?  We need an effective transition to shelve the price issue until later in the buying process. An effective transition has three steps:

1. Recognize – Stop and let them know you heard. Only pushy salespeople bypass or ignore stalls and objections

2. Reassure – React positively. Confirm that you will provide what they want.

3. Redirect – Make a suggestion that restores control and gives direction. This suggestion must give them a benefit for following your lead.

Here is how the transition works with a typical new vehicle price inquiry:

"What's the best price on that red one?"

"I would be happy to get the pricing for you – without that how could you possibly decide? Can I suggest an easy way to get the best pricing on a vehicle that is equipped exactly the way you want it?"


"Let's just take a moment to make a few notes on the equipment you really need or want, then I can price the vehicle for you that way.  If there are any options you don't need, we can save you money by selecting one without that feature. Let's make sure that the one we price has everything that is important to you otherwise you won't be totally satisfied with your vehicle no matter how good the price is!"

Now we can get right into the interview starting with good questions about the types of features that are important and why. They will want to follow your lead because you have given them a benefit in doing so.  Leadership in sales is all about leading people to where they want to go.  Price is an important consideration but it's only one part of the buying decision and it's definitely not the best place to start.

Remember that the worst thing we can do is prejudge the prospect as a price shopper just because they want to talk price too soon.  Using a professional transition allows you to lead the client in the collection of all the information and experiences that they need to make a good buying decision.

"Inside the ring or out, ain't nothing wrong with going down.
It's staying down that's wrong."
- Muhammad Ali

Automotivaters is highly recognized and one of the most respected automotive training and consulting companies in Canada. Since 1987, the company has acquired an international client base throughout Canada, the United States, the Philippines, Indonesia, French Polynesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and New Zealand.

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