The Cost Sales Objection
If you sell Internet marketing services or products, you probably have heard dozens of different sales objections and noticed commonalities. Ginny Soskey from Hubspot writes four of the most common B2B sales objections revolve around:
- need, and
My experience has shown the same, with budget (or what I like to call “money”) being the predominate sales objection I get. It’s likely because I sell high-ticket SEO services. Whatever the reason, my prospects say something like “it costs too much” or “the price is too high” so often that I’d like to share how I overcome this objection with you.
A Quick Note Before Getting Into It
I’d like to start off by saying that almost every sales coach I know advises not to discount your rates and to place emphasis on the value you bring to the table, rather than your price. I agree, but you need to consider your unique situation and where you are with your business at the time of the objection. Sometimes you might need to make a sale, so don’t be afraid to lower your price if necessary.
For example, if you’re just starting to build your book of business, don’t feel like you have to stick to “one price” or certain minimums when you need a sale. If you set your prices too high, you might lose some great prospects along the way. Don’t get me wrong, the time will come where you will command your price. Just make sure you consider your sales needs at the time.
Furthermore, think about any intangible benefits a prospect might give you over monetary gain. Is your prospect a big company with a great brand that can help you generate business through referrals and testimonials? I have a big brand yoga apparel client who (surprisingly) had a maximum SEO budget of only $5,000 per month, which was lower than our minimum for a large e-commerce website. However, I decided to make an exception because of their brand name.
Even if you need a sale, it’s important that you don’t give a discount for the first “money” sales objection you get. Instead, I recommend the following:
- Offer a discount for a pay-in-advance option or agree on creative payment terms to help your prospect manage the investment.
- If this doesn’t work, recommend removing some components of your service to lower your prospect’s overall investment.
- If the above two options do not work, and you need a sale, then consider lowering your price.
With that out of the way, here’s my four-step approach to overcoming SEO pricing and budget objections.
1. Find Out If Money Is The Real Objection
As Geoffrey James from Inc.com writes, the first step is to uncover the real objection. To overcome a money concern you need to make sure that money is the real issue and not a disguise for the real objection. For example, does your prospect dislike your company, a salesperson, your service, or product? Is there another common sales objection at hand, such as your prospect needing the approval of someone with more authority?
Once you’ve isolated money as the real issue, you’ll be in a better position to handle prospect objections. To do this, I’ve had the best success by being direct and asking,
“Aside from price, are there any other concerns you have with our proposal?”
If there are other issues, you need to manage them before talking about price. It doesn’t make any sense to negotiate the price if the prospect doesn’t like what you have to offer. If there are no other concerns, you know what needs to be addressed.
2. Determine Why Your Prospect Thinks Your Price Is Too High
There are three main reasons why your prospect might think your Internet marketing services cost too much.Click to tweet
- Your prices are beyond available marketing budgets.
- Your prices are higher than your competitors.
- Your prices are higher than the perceived economic benefit.
To find out which reason or reasons apply to your situation, the first thing to do is recall the discussions you’ve had with your prospect. Did you learn what their budget was? Do you remember if they approached more than one Internet marketing company for proposals? Is your prospect fixated on numbers and ROI? All the information you’ve discussed and gathered up to this point can provide a lot of insight into price objections.
The alternative is to ask. If you forgot to talk about budgets before sending your proposal, you could ask something in line with,
“We presented several marketing service options. Are all of them within the company’s monthly marketing budget?”
Trying to determine if you have competitors? In my experience, most prospects will tell me if our prices are higher than other proposals, allowing me to determine how they are assessing my costs much easier. You can also be direct and ask something like,
“Have you received any other SEO proposals?”
(If they answer “Yes,” you know what you’re up against. If they answer “No,” you don’t have any competitors, but I’ll let them know that if they were to check pricing at other top notch SEO companies, they’ll see that our firm provides more value for a lower cost–of course, you should say this only if it’s true.)
Lastly, I’m a big advocate of including an ROI analysis in my proposals, so I bypass this objection. However, if you haven’t included an ROI analysis, and you’re unsure if your prospect is questioning the value of the campaign, assume they are and plan on showing and/or explaining how the campaign’s benefits greatly outweigh the cost.
It happens. You talk to a prospect for a good period, build a relationship, and you send them your proposal with different service options only to have them say they can’t afford your services. They simply do not have the funds to do anything. There isn’t a lot you can do in these situations, which is why qualifying your leads before investing a ton of time into them is so important. If you’ve done a thorough job ensuring your prospects can afford your services, you won’t encounter this situation often.
But again, it happens. Perhaps in your excitement you forgot to ask a prospect about their marketing budget or maybe your prospect’s company had to suddenly cut costs. If you find yourself in this situation, your best option is to introduce a pay-in-advance option, payment terms, or a combination of the two. If this doesn’t work, be understanding, offer your informal assistance with general questions despite their lack of funds and let them know you’ll keep in touch–you never know what the future will bring.
Prices Are Higher Than Your Competitors
Almost all of my company’s proposals are on the higher end of the scale. Prospects regularly tell us that our prices are high compared to other proposals they receive. When this happens, we confront the objection head on and confirm that we might be more expensive than others, but it’s because our clients expect real results and get what they pay for. We clearly explain why our team and service is a much better value even at higher prices than our competitors. In a nutshell, we get our clients results and do not waste their time or money.
If you can show that your service provides tremendous value, and your prospects understand you have other clients paying just as much for your services, they will be more likely to accept the price disparity. Businesses are willing to invest more in a quality marketing company that gets results and saves them time and frustration. Also, when prospects hear that other businesses are paying you high monthly fees, they don’t want to stand out as the company who couldn’t afford your services. (i.e. There is an ego-play involved here.)
Here, having substantial experience, testimonials, and social proof will go a long way in convincing a prospect that you’re the better choice, despite your premium pricing.
Prices Seem Higher Than The Perceived Economic Benefit
As an Internet marketer, it’s your job to make your clients money. Every business owner I know will invest more money into a winning marketing campaign as long as it produces results by bringing in more business. It’s your responsibility to show your prospect that the economic benefit of your SEO campaign is well worth their investment in your services.
At the very least, you should give them a reasonable set of performance expectations and the value your campaign will add to their bottom line compared with the cost of your services. The more detailed you are, the better chance you have of convincing your prospects that your prices are worth it. For example, providing a thorough ROI analysis based on analytics data can turn even the most skeptical lead into a client.
Want me to show you how to create proposals that close and get the exact proposal I use to close $7,500++ per month SEO clients? Check out my new Proposal Creation Course.
3. Tell Your Prospect You Understand
Don’t be offended, and never make your prospects seem ill-advised even if their price objection sounds ridiculous. Perhaps they can’t see every angle or all the benefits of your services. If you want to close deals, avoid engaging in a debate where there can be only one winner.
Place yourself in their position and work with them, not against them. Let them know you understand that price is important. Then, approach them with the mindset of coming up with a solution that will make both of you happy.
Here’s a recent example where a prospect let me know that our cost is beyond their budget. Notice how I avoid discussing any minimums and that we can no longer work together. I am respectful. I let them know I understand and suggest working together to figure out a way to get them what they want.
4. Work Together On A Win-Win Solution
If you followed step 3, you could naturally segue into discussing how you and your prospect can arrive at some win-win agreement. Highlight the value of your services and that you know they would benefit a lot, so you want to figure out a way for the two of you to resolve the cost issue.
In my email example, notice how I told my prospect I’m confident the SEO campaign would kill it for them and follow up by saying we can find a way to make the SEO initiative more affordable.
You’ll usually need to be the first to propose some potential solutions. From here, both of you can continue the conversation and come up with an agreeable solution. In my example email, I suggest breaking the campaign down into components, which will help lower the overall cost without offering a discount.
Recommend These Potential Solutions
We’ve covered the three top reasons why your prospect might think your Internet marketing service prices are too high.
- Limited or unavailable marketing budget.
- Higher prices than your competitors.
- Your prices are higher than the perceived economic benefit.
If you’re dealing with a prospect with no marketing budget, then the best bet is to offer a pay-in-advance discount in combination with creative payment terms. Aside from this, you’ll just have to keep in touch and wait until they have the money available to invest in marketing.
If you’ve overcome the objections of your prices being higher than your competitors or greater than the perceived economic benefit, and your prospect still mentions your prices are too high; I recommend the following solutions.
Reduce the value of your services so that you can reduce the overall price. If your original proposal includes ten deliverables for $5,000 per month, and your prospect can afford only $2,500 per month, determine if you can remove some of the deliverables to lower the overall cost for your prospect while still making a good profit. You might now only provide five deliverables.
You’ll typically have to recommend what or deliverables can be removed. If your prospect is Internet savvy, you can ask components are important so that you can come back to them with a custom quote.
Here’s a note about breaking down your SEO services into components. I discourage disclosing your cost structure for every little item or deliverable. Going down this path is a slippery slope and leads to nickel-and-diming. If you want to command premium pricing and have high-profit margins, don’t share the underlying fee structure of each and every deliverable.
Instead, combine your deliverables into grouped components. Using the example of your SEO package including ten deliverables, when removing deliverables (i.e. value) to help lower your prospect’s overall cost, combine the deliverables into groups. Three separate deliverables might make up one group. Removing this one group of deliverables might reduce your SEO cost by $1,500.
Reducing the value of your services by removing grouped components rather than individual deliverables provides you with more flexibility to build profit into each task, and again, it discourages nickel-and-diming.
Offer a free trial. If everything we’ve discussed thus far fails, there is likely some trust issue combined with the original money objection. You can convince prospects who are on the edge after showing them some results-in-advance with some no obligation trial. Determine if this is an option for you. Make sure that you can show them results without investing too much time or money–it is a free trail after all.
I’ve done this a few times. I’ve agreed to get a specific key phrase ranking on Page 1 on Google in a matter of weeks to prove I know what I’m doing and am trustworthy. The tactic is pretty simple, but you need to make sure you consider different factors before agreeing on this kind of free trial. For instance, you need to understand how competitive your prospect’s industry is and how difficult it might be to rank some ‘trial’ key phrases.
If you think it will be easy, you can do the same as I’ve done. Come to an agreement on the key phrase to rank (preferably a long-tail key phrase with a geo-modifier because they are easier to rank), and build a couple of very powerful links to the web page optimized for the key phrase.
This is just an example of a “free trial” you could offer. Please keep in mind that I know SEO has evolved and is no longer just about targeting certain key phrases and trying to rank them in isolation. However, many people still understand SEO this way. It’s up to you if you feel this particular example will work for you. The main point is to think about something you can do to show your prospect some results-in-advance.
I’ve covered the exact approach I’ve used to overcome price objections. I’ve experienced significant results, and I’m sure you’ll notice a positive change as well even if you implement only a few of my recommendations.
If you feel like you got value from my post and others might too, please do me a favor and share it on your social media channels. To be honest, it lets me know that I’m writing about topics that help you and encourages me to continue writing.
Also, do you have any special techniques for handling price objections? Share your tips with us in the comments!