You’ve gone over their needs. You’ve walked them through the process. You’ve measured, explained, demonstrated. Now you’re back with a multi-page proposal. That new roof will cost $23,455.

Without hesitating, the client says: “We have another bid from ________. Theirs is $20,000. So unless you can do it for that, we’ve decided we’re going to go with them.”

Feeling aggravated? Of course. Maybe worse than aggravated. Maybe ... maybe, defensive?

Naturally, you want to fire back, either at the client or the competitor. But put that emotion aside because it’s not going to get you this job.

Start Selling

Actually, this is where selling begins — because selling is about handling objections.

Start by acknowledging your customer. Say something like: “I understand where you’re coming from. Everyone wants the best deal. I’m a consumer, too. But just to be clear, why are you asking me to drop my price?”

Then let him or her explain why. Don’t put yourself in the position of defending your price. Instead, ask your prospect to defend his statement.

If you’ve built good rapport and you have a reputation for selling high-end products at a premium, your prospect is probably expecting your price to be higher, but not that much higher. They could give all sorts of responses to your question. At this point, however, you’re going to find out whether or not you established a difference in the value of what your company offers vs. all the rest. If you haven’t provided a difference, why should he pay a premium?

Let’s say the client responds by saying something like: “Well, what they’re proposing and what you’re proposing are basically the same, only you want 20% more for it.”

OK, now you know where you stand and what to do.

Or, they might try putting some pressure on you by saying: “If you can bring it down a bit we’ll sign right now.” Or throw the ball into your court by asking: “What do you think you can do for me?”

Taking Control

Your confidence plays more of a role in the sales process right now than at any other point in the visit. If you look at your prospect timidly, he’s going to read that and act accordingly. So don’t. Look him boldly in the face. Then start asking the questions that allow you to take control of the conversation.

Say he says: “I have another quote and it’s the same as yours.” Nine out of 10 times it’s not. Not everyone’s going to quote the job the same way. How could they?

Here’s your response: “Have you really looked at both proposals? Is his scope of work the same as mine?”

Then walk him through both. Show what you’ll do that the competitor won’t.

You might want to ask him this: “If my competitor is at $20,000 and I’m at $23,500 for the same job, why are you still talking to me? There must be something that we have that you feel they don’t.”

Now the prospect is a little uncomfortable, but a lot more interested.

How about: “Do you feel as confident in their crews as you do in ours?”

Say they dig in. It’s “a budget issue.” Twenty thousand dollars is as much as they have to spend. Not a penny more.

Tell them you’re prepared to give them the best job for the best price, though you can adjust the materials on the job to reflect a different price. You can always take things out of the scope.

Remember, though, whatever you do, don’t drop the price. The experienced sales guy has been burned a couple times on this. He understands that that 10% drop the client is shooting for comes out of his end, and the net effect is that he did all this work for nothing. There’s also this to think about: If that client wants a discount and you drop the price just because he asked, what will he want when the job’s in progress?

—Tom Shallcross is sales manager at Opal Enterprises, a roofing, siding, and window company in Naperville, Ill.