When I first hung out my shingle and began my service-based business I was so excited. Going out of my own, having no-one to answer to other than myself, and being able to support my clients the way I wanted was far more appealing to me than working from 9 to 5 for someone else. However that excitement was short-lived and soon turned to dread when the phone rang and I was greeted with “Hi, I’d like to enquire about your services. So, how much do you charge?”
Back in the early days I responded by explaining my fees to the caller, which I realise now was not the best approach. The reason for this is that as soon as the caller hears the cost they’ll immediately make up their minds (based on their possibly misinformed understanding of the services you provide) about whether they want to work with you.
It’s important to realise that people often make a purchase decision based on emotion – so by answering their question right at the beginning of the conversation you miss the opportunity to build that ‘emotional’ connection, nor can you build credibility, value and desire to work with you.
If this is something you dread too and like me (those many years ago) you respond by stating your prices, you may be missing out on numerous business opportunities.
Here are three simple yet powerful steps that will support you in not only responding to that dreaded question but will also help you to build trust and rapport with your prospect – both vital elements in any sales process.
Step 1: Defer the Question:
Firstly, you need to let the client feel as if you’re not avoiding their question so that they believe their request is important to you, which of course it is. Do this by responding with:
“I’ll be happy to answer your question (name). To ensure that I’m able to recommend the best solution to support you – is it ok if I ask you a few questions?”
This response is vital and will allow you to put their request on hold while you continue to find out important information about the problem/situation with which they are faced. You’ll also have the opportunity to position yourself and your services as a must-have solution to their problems.
Step 2: Research, Reflect and Build Rapport
Next, it’s important to find out about the problems they are experiencing and that prompted them to make contact with you.
Ask the following question, stop talking and continue to listen closely to their story particularly in relation to the words they use to describe their situation and the frustration they are feeling.
“So what is it that prompted you to call me today? What’s going on for you at the moment?”
After the client shares their story and continues to speak it’s important to reflect the information by repeating their words and their emotions back to them throughout the conversation. Doing this also helps to build rapport and trust as you continue to confirm a genuine interest in what they are saying.
For instance: “… I can certainly understand your frustration at spending over $4,000 on your advertisement and only receiving a handful of responses… I agree – it would have been terribly disappointing.”
Step 3: Switch Gear & Show Them the Results
Now is the time to ease the client out of their frustration and begin to create the ideal situation they desire, while building anticipation and the belief that this is achievable for them too, which of course it is!
Create an environment that allows them to feel that they are not alone and demonstrate how you’ve been able to help other people overcome similar problems.
“Well, you’ve come to the right place (name), and you’re certainly not the only person who has had to face this issue. Many of the clients I work with have experienced the exact same things you’re currently facing and have felt the exact same frustration you are currently feeling.”
“In fact one of the clients prior to working with me spent thousands of dollars on advertising and unfortunately didn’t receive anywhere near the response she had hoped for. She’s in my [name] program and in the last few months is generating some amazing results. In the past month alone she’s increased her database by 40%, she’s doubled the number of enquiries she’s receiving, and she’s been able to increase the number of people investing in her programs, all while cutting her advertising costs by 50%. She’s thrilled with the results. From what you’ve told me about your background I’m confident that you’ll be able to generate similar results… What would it mean to you if you increased your database by 40%, doubled your enquiries and reduced your advertising costs by 50% (name)?”
Then stop talking and listen as your client visualises the impact this type of result would have on their business…
You’ll obviously have to tweak specific details in steps two and three to suit the clients you work with and the services you offer, however using these three simple yet powerful steps will enable you to create an opportunity to build rapport and credibility with your prospect and allow further opportunity for ongoing conversation about your services and how you can support them.
Is this helpful? Pop me a note here on my blog. I’d love to hear from you!