I ran into a local Chinese restaurant at lunchtime to get a takeout order from the lunch menu. I asked if soup came with the order. The woman at the counter told me that they did not have soup to go with the lunch specials.

I really wanted some hot and sour soup.

"So how can I get soup?" I asked.

She pointed to the menu and said all they had was the big container for two, for six dollars.

"How about just filling it halfway, making it for one, and charging me half price?"

She smiled and said, "The soup is for two and is $6."

I bought it.

That was a great example of standing firm on price.

It is isn't rocket science, but it's an age-old dilemma: salespeople dropping their price at the first sign of resistance, or request for a better price. And the ones who do it, who cave in to price statements and questions, give away pure profit. Usually, needlessly.

But perhaps they don't have the confidence or know-how to avoid falling into this trap. Here are some ideas you can use as well to avoid giving away profit.

1) Raise your value in their mind, or the cost of the problem, higher than your price.

It's quite simple -- if a buyer perceives their potential return as higher than your price, then price is not an issue. Ask questions to get them to attach dollar figures to pains or problems. "What does that cost you?" "How much extra time does that take?"

2) Delay discussing price until you have established value.

If asked early about price, respond with a statement along the lines of, "So I can give you the best price for your situation, let me ask a few questions ... " Then circle back to value.

3) State your price with unwavering conviction.

If you hem and haw, this indicates you are not firm with your price and it's open to negotiation. Say your price with the same confident tone of voice you would use if someone asked you in which city you live.

4) Realize that price comments are not price objections.

When someone says, "Wow, that's more than what I expected to pay," they are not saying they will not buy. You do not even need to respond to this comment. However, many sales reps offer to cut price at this point.

5) Have a quick response on hand to "Do you discount?"

How about: "No, that's the price." Or, if they ask, "Can you do any better on price?" say, "That's the price." Simple.

6) Qualify for money.

I do not like asking about budgets, since it can kill a sale when they say their budget has been spent. If a prospect wants something badly enough, they normally can find the money for it, if you are talking at the right level.

Sometimes, however, you need to learn if you are even in the same ballpark. I once heard a very successful sales rep say, "Our product has a useful lifetime almost double anything else on the market. That also means it's not the cheapest initial investment, but a better value over time. That's not a reason for us to stop talking, is it?"

7) Help them find the money.

In some cases, the money might be tight. Then ask about the past: "What have you done before when you wanted something that would give a return on your investment, but did not have the funds available?"

Use these ideas and you will find that every dollar you don't give away is a dollar of pure profit.

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on Smart Calling Online and is republished here with permission.

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Originally published Oct 26, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017

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Pricing in Sales