Why do so many salespeople automatically offer a discount at the end of a pitch? Anyone can offer a discount, so it demonstrates neither talent nor skill.

The way to approach a sales pitch is to be confident in your knowledge of the product or service you are selling, so that a discount is an ‘if it’s necessary’ at the end of the conversation rather than a pre-planned bargaining chip. Having the mentality of offering a discount before you’ve even begun is a sloppy selling approach and a Sales Manager’s nightmare. Confidence is key, if you’re behind target, then desperation will lead to higher discounts to ensure an order is placed. Performance versus target should not be relevant to what the customer is prepared to pay.

When professional sports teams take to the field they have their plan and their tactics at the forefront of their minds, the same should be true of every salesperson before they start talking with a customer.

Pricing should be strategic, and as it directly impacts profitability, it should not be discounted on a whim. Here are 5 ways to protect your price:

1.    Do your research

Think about your customer: what are their pain points? Who are your competitors, what do they charge, how do they justify that pricing structure, what do you offer that they don’t? Do your research. Having answers to these types of queries will help you a) have an answer to their questions and b) will help you feel more confident before the conversation has even started.

2.    Open confidently

How you begin the conversation should set the tone and direction of what follows. Have a strong, well-rehearsed opening that enables the rest of the discussion to run smoothly. If a script helps, aim for bullet points rather than word by word. At this stage you are not selling, you are setting the scene.

3.    Understand their situation

Before money is discussed, you need to have fully understood your customer’s point of view. Take notes, so that you can refer back to them later. Put yourself in their shoes; every salesperson should know how to use open and closed questions, but it’s how you phrase those open questions that will directly impact the quality of the information received from the customer.

4.    Listen

Really pay attention to what they’re saying, not what you want to hear. Soft skills are key in any conversation, but more so in selling because no one likes to feel they’re being sold to. Developing a rapport should be genuine but sometimes it takes a bit more effort than others. Don’t fill silences, let the other person consider their response and, also, wait for your turn to speak. It’s too easy to allow enthusiasm to take over and find yourself jumping in at the first sign they might have stopped talking! Just like comedy, successful sales are all about timing.

5.    Clarify

Phrases such as “so that I can be clear on what your priorities are” or “I want to make sure I fully understand what you’re after” are a great way of reiterating what the client has said to you. Look at your notes and pin point what their greatest concerns are. That way, when you discuss price, you are better prepared to describe how your product/service can alleviate those concerns. Price is often a pain point yes, but if a machine breaking down means your customer keeps missing their children’s bed-time, suddenly a machine that is less likely to break down becomes more important than price and thus a key selling point.

In summary, your ideal sales pitch should have followed this journey:

·     You have thoroughly researched your customer

·     Introduced yourself in a way that guides the conversation to where you want it to go

·     Understood what the customer has said they need

·     Listened to all the pain points and priorities

·     And clarified the situation by reiterating the key points gathered from the discussion

Now you should be in a suitable position to discuss price. Is your product cheaper than others on the market? Your product pitch should revolve around convenience and purpose. Is your product expensive? Highlight the quality and supporting service. If you cannot demonstrate the value; you cannot justify the price.

If you have piqued the customer’s interest, but are struggling to defend the price, then it is worth going through the VALUE and BENEFITS one more time. If they are fully informed by you and genuinely interested, then they are more likely to pay full price. Only if it’s a real sticking point should you then mention a discount.

Think about your favourite products or services. Why do you keep going back? Does it save you time? Does it save you money? Does it improve how you or your business looks? You are probably a loyal customer because it fulfills certain requirements or makes your life easier, not because it was offered at a discount at the very beginning.

Protect your price. Your belief in the value of your product should be palpable, and easily demonstrated to any customer.