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How to deal with the domineering prospect

You're in sales, so it won't be long before you get face-to-face with a prospect who impatiently demands to know the price before you have made your presentation.

What outcome can you expect if you go along with what Mr Aggressive is asking for? It's not likely to be an order. So learn how to neutralise this opening with simple strategies which give you back the advantage.

'How much?' – he asks, and you reply, 'I don't know'


'I don't know what it is going to cost until I have asked you a few questions to find out which product / service is going to be appropriate for what you want to do. Is it ok for me to ask you a few questions? Then I can give you an accurate price. I don't want to estimate it because one of us will be unhappy if I guess too high or too low.'

That works pretty well most of the time. But you will get the recalcitrant type occasionally who persists with, 'You must have some idea.'

Then you can respond, 'Over the last year, jobs we have done like this have cost between $Y,000 and $Z,000, depending on what specification the customer chose.' (Make sure that there is a big gap between the $Y,000 and the $Z,000 figures).

'I'll be able to give you a proper idea once I've asked you a few questions.'

The reason that we don't tell the prospect the price right up front is that once he or she has a figure in mind, it's likely that they quickly decide on that factor alone. That does neither the buyer or the seller any favour. The problem is that apart from pure commodities, such as the price of gas for your car, or the cost of an air-ticket to New York in economy class, what you get for your money varies considerably.

If you buy a bicycle from a supermarket and it breaks a week or two later, they can't do anything other than give you another one the same. If you have the persistence, this can repeat until you get fed up and stop coming back.

At a specialist bike store you pay more, but then you get reliable transport and the back-up of a business which can deal with any problem efficiently.

The difference in price is because you are buying something different. This can lead you to a good sales question, 'What is more important to you, Mrs Customer, the lowest price, or the best value?' Then you can give the explanation above.

Returning to our aggressive customer; usually when you ask 'Can I ask a few questions so that I can give you an accurate price,' it neutralises their bluster and then they stay well-behaved for the rest of your presentation.

Don't let the 'tough guys' faze you, apply the ideas above and you can turn them into pussycats.


If you enjoyed this article, take a look at my book.

The Selling for Engineers manual

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