One of the challenges all consultants and coaches face at some point is dealing with what appear to be price-driven Suspects.

(Keep in mind, a Suspect is someone you aren’t working with yet but who looks and sounds like a possible fit for your offerings.)

It’s easy to blame the recession, inflation, and every other thing that’s going on in the economy; but the truth is – especially when it comes to services – the people you’re talking to are confused and afraid.

Your Suspects are afraid of:

  • being taken advantage of
  • paying too much for the service you offer
  • not getting a relatively quick return on their investment to recoup what they spend with you
  • making a decision that’s irreversible
  • how their business or life would be different by working with you
  • you not fulfilling the promises you make

They’re confused because…

  • they just flat-out don’t know if your offer is a good value
  • there’s so much inconsistency in pricing among those who are in your category
  • they may have no frame of reference for your price if they’ve never hired anyone like you before

When you get to the point in the conversation that deals with price, your Suspect takes in this information and compares it to existing information in the filing cabinet that is their brain.

They start comparing that price to things they’ve bought before – whether they’re products or services.

The reason they’re comparing price and not your offering is price is an easier thing to compare because it’s fairly black and white (in their mind anyway). And the brain is always looking for a reason to dismiss something new so it can remain focused and ready for the really hard stuff of living.

So you may quote $1997 for an offering and feel you’re giving the Suspect the bargain of the century.

But if the Suspect has never engaged a professional service provider like you before or has never bought a service like yours or never made an investment in herself or her business like the one you presented her, she could be completely mystified about whether to say yes or not.

And then there’s the inner conflict – “Should I or shouldn’t I?”, “Nothing I’ve invested in has worked; will this be different?”, “Is this the right program and the right person for our company?”.

If she doesn’t know what to base a decision on, the easiest thing to look at is your price and compare it to what’s in her bank account.

If she’s underestimated what you would charge and she’s embarrassed by that, she doesn’t want to insult you (or embarrass herself further) so she just says “I can’t afford it” or “that’s outside my budget”. (And if you asked her what her budget was at the beginning she probably said she didn’t know.)

And then there’s her decision making personality. There’s…

Commitment-phobic Connie – she wonders if you’ll be a good fit for her and if there’s someone else who can do the job better, faster, cheaper.  She may want to have multiple conversations and email exchanges looking for some magic words

Terrified Teresa – she longs to make a difference in the world and has great offerings, but she’s secretly afraid of playing bigger, being seen, and the impact that would have on her life and relationships.

Rejected Rhonda – she’s got a big need to be liked and wrestles with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. She knows not everyone will want to or is ready to work with her but she’s afraid of rejection and hasn’t mastered being detached from the outcome of selling her services.

Tapped-Out Tina – Tina has been following every guru out there, investing in every program offered. She understands the value of working privately with an expert but got sucked into the promises made on their expertly crafted sales pages. She’s now in debt and feeling the weight of those monthly bills. She’s afraid to invest in anything else or believe in anyone else.

Fearful Fran – She works in a growing organization and reports to a big cheese. Other people have made mistakes and they’ve been punished for them. The punishments have ranged from just the usual personal embarrassment to being labeled a “bad decision maker” to actually being fired. She struggles with understanding her boss and is secretly afraid she’ll lose her job over some dumb mistake.

Indecisive Isabelle – Isabelle has many of the traits of the other ladies in this circle. Her problem – that she can’t make a decision – is rooted in fear.  She’s afraid to make a mistake…afraid to lose or waste money…afraid she won’t get results…and since she really doesn’t trust herself she’s always looking for guidance about what to do. She’s wracked with self-doubt and second-guesses herself constantly.

Short-Attention Span Sally — She’s not going to read all the information you’re sharing with her. She probably thinks a 5-minute video is the Gone With the Wind of marketing. The big challenge with her is to get her attention and help her to focus on the pain she’s in and the solution you’re offering her.

I know you’re thinking “Hey, my Ideal Client loves what I do, makes fast decisions, and pays me what I’m worth.”

That’s true. That’s your Ideal Client.

Unless your dance card is completely filled with Ideal Ida, I’m going to bet even the most fun clients you’ve worked with have exhibited some of the traits of the ladies I’ve mentioned.

Heck, I’ve seen people display all of these personalities as if they’re the next star of a remake of Sybil.

But we’ve all had moments in our lives when we’ve had split personalities haven’t we? When we’ve shared the thoughts and emotions of these women?

So how do you help them move past the issues they wrestle with?

  1. Understand that decision making is emotional at its core. Even the most logical of decision makers will have some emotions at play in the process. Understand the dominant emotions your Prime Suspects and Ideal Clients have and what helps them decide. Ask your favorites what made them decide to take action at each point in the buying process. Also understand that even that isn’t a fool proof process because we don’t understand ourselves very well. But It’s better than just guessing.
  2. Commit to only talking to Prime Suspects and only working with Ideal Clients.  Then you can focus on understanding their motivations, emotions, wants, and needs along with where they are in both the online and offline worlds.
  3. Getting clients is a numbers game combined with practice. Most people hate sales conversations so much that they only engage in them when it counts – when they talk to a potential client. So when you don’t get the sale you see it as failure rather than as a learning experience. But every other performer and professional has some sort of practice to be great at their craft when it’s time to perform for real. Get a coach, find a colleague, do something to practice and get feedback on your process and your conversations.
  4. PreSell yourself and your offerings.  PreSelling involves creating a process that acknowledges the research people do prior to engaging with a “sales person”.  By building your brand as an expert and the go-to person for the results your Clients want along with creating a process that educates them and treats them with respect, you help them recognize your genius and develop trust in you.

Remember when people voice questions and concerns it’s actually a good thing. They’re asking you to help them make a decision. They’re doing their due diligence. Give them the tools they need to make a good decision because buying is a demonstration of trust.

What’s your strategy to help someone move passed price?

About the author 

Winnie Anderson

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