After conducting hundreds of win-loss interviews on a monthly basis on behalf of well-known B2B solution providers, one thing has become clear: When a buyer in the “loss” category summarizes their dissatisfaction with a vendor’s value proposition by saying, “The price was just too high,” something is missing.
It’s tempting to take that initial feedback at face value, but in almost every case of a buyer citing price as the issue, we find this statement to be overly simplistic—if not misleading. That’s why it’s important to probe deeper about the buyer’s pricing concerns and seek more actionable feedback. And to be clear, lowering your solution’s price usually is a mistake.
There are three common underlying themes behind the “your price is just too high” statement that you can keep in your back pocket as you conduct your own post-decision interviews of lost opportunities.
No Clear or Justifiable Value Proposition
“It’s important to remember that B2B transactions are never just about money,” said David Tensmeyer of Boston Consulting Group. “Whether your price is lower than, higher than or on par with the competition, you need to have a value proposition that justifies that price level in the customer’s mind.”
First, customers need to be confident that your solution will solve their problem. Second, they need to be confident that your price point is justifiable relative to the magnitude of the problem being solved. Finally, they need help making that business case clear to other stakeholders in their company.
Train your sellers to identify the problem being solved, justify the price and assist their customers in building a business case. Regular post-decision interviews can help you identify lost opportunities where your value proposition fell short. You’ll also learn whether the loss was sales-related or a true pricing issue. In many cases, sales-related improvements will enable more wins than dropping your price.
An Unclear Pricing Model
For many buyers, their problem isn’t that the price is high, but that it’s unclear, and they want to understand the structure behind the quote. How did you get to the price you gave them?
Without pricing clarity and transparency, the buyer may question the integrity of your quote, the scalability of your pricing over time or the flexibility of your pricing when their needs change. Train your sellers to communicate how your pricing works and break down estimates into their component parts.
Finally, avoid used-car-salesman tactics like starting with an unreasonably high price and then deeply discounting to find the buyer’s comfort level. The buyer may be pleased with the lower price, but they still are left wondering about your honesty—and whether you even have a clear idea of the actual value of your product.
The Package Didn’t Align with Their Needs
“Buyers don’t like paying for things that they won’t use,” said Clozd senior consultant Cameron Turnbow. “To make their product more compelling, sometimes companies add a lot of features. But some buyers don’t need or care about those features. They may feel like you’re selling them more than they need, giving them the impression that they are spending more than they should. Packaging your product or service correctly ensures you avoid this potential pitfall.”
If a buyer is looking for a quick fix for a simple business problem and all you offer is a premium product with lots of bells and whistles, it’s going to be difficult to get your price down to a point that makes sense for them. In this case, when you hear “the price is too high,” they’re really saying that “your product is way more than we can handle right now.”
Again, regular post-decision interviews with lost prospects will help you diagnose these kinds of packaging problems. You may find that simple tweaks will help you align your solution with the actual needs of your typical buyer personas.
Dig a Little Deeper
One of the best methods for determining what a buyer really means when they say your price is out of range is to conduct probing, post-decision interviews with the decision makers of lost accounts. By digging a little deeper, you can gain insights that will transform your approach to future customers and quiet the concerns about price.
To learn more about post-decision interviews, check out the Win Loss Week event, hosted by Clozd in partnership with Pragmatic Institute. The event has concluded, but you can still register to gain access to the full session lineup.
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