The Right Way To Have The Dreaded “Price” Discussion With New Prospects
Over the last several months I’ve been listening to recordings of inbound phone calls to my clients’ offices (MSPs) from prospects coming to them via a search on Google for IT support. My intention was to listen for commonalities in questions, words or comments that I could then use in headlines and offers to improve the conversion on these particular clients’ web sites. What struck me is that in 90% of the calls that came in the “what do you charge” question came up. Since I’m certain that’s happening to everyone, I thought I would give some useful insights on how to handle this question.
First off, it’s important that you don’t react to a prospects initial and early request for a price quote. Genius League Member Scott Spiro (last month’s Genius of the Month) has been handling it beautifully by simply ignoring it and setting the appointment. The prospect will say something to the effect of, “I’m calling to talk to someone about getting IT support for our XYZ business and wanted to see if you could send me some pricing information…” The person answering the phone simply says, “Okay, I can help you with that. May I ask you a few questions first?” or something similar, which NO prospect has pushed back on. From there, they set the appointment and never bring it up again. They just re-affirm they can help and the “way they work” is to come on-site and take a look at what’s going on and discuss the problems they’re experiencing a bit further. Simple.
However, at SOME point you will need to discuss what your services cost. I believe that this should be a very comfortable conversation for you to have that should be scripted and practiced so it’s delivered with confidence. For most, it’s not a comfortable conversation and therefore the “price” conversation is delivered with hesitation and obvious insecurity. This sends a strong vibe to the client that something is amiss.
Personally, I float price early on in the sales process so I avoid wasting time with people who are stunned by my fees. Price IS discussed before any proposals are drafted to avoid investing time creating proposals that will never close for people who simply cannot or will not be able to pay to play. The ability to do that is, by the way, a by-product of proper marketing. Truth is, I have more opportunities than I can possibly take on, so I want to quickly get to the serious buyers. However, even if you ARE light on opportunities, I believe you ought to discuss your fees in a general format earlier in the sales process rather than later after doing hours of work and discovery. That’s not to suggest you give them a quote in the first meeting; but avoiding the price discussion altogether is stupid and wasteful. They don’t think you’re going to deliver your services for free, and you’re certainly not expecting to do that either. So a good way of getting this done is to say, “Based on what I know right now, which is somewhat limited until we conduct our full network audit and see what’s going on, I would anticipate our support to run you somewhere between X and Y. Are you prepared to spend that?”
While you and I both know you cannot give a 100% accurate quote until you do a full discovery, you know in general what you charge per workstation, server, etc. and can give at least a range that most clients fall within. If they faint after you soft lob the price ballpark, you just saved yourself (and them) a lot of time by quickly dismissing yourself as someone who cannot help them at the moment—and that’s fine.