No-one buys on price

November 30th, 2012

My guest blog this week is from Steve Jessop. Here he discusses the age old debate about the role that price plays in the sales process in No-one Buys on Price.

Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, once infamously said that “a lie repeated often enough will be regarded as the truth”. In a business context, on the subject of price, some would say that, in principle, he was on to something……

Some familiar phrases:

  • “We must ensure that we are competitive.”
  • “It’s all down to the best price.”
  • “I’ve been told to go away and sharpen my pencil.”

 It isn’t always easy for us to accept, but these and similar phrases camouflage the fact that we didn’t sell the customer on the true value of our offering. They are really euphemisms for our inability to sell value….

There has always been a drive to condition us to compromise on our prices and buy into the propaganda…. Some years’ ago I found myself in a very pleasant Berkshire hotel coaching a group of sales managers. In the next room was a purchasing managers’ training programme being run on behalf of a UK multi-national. Our Minister of Propaganda would have approved of the conversations I heard together with the supporting visual aids:

  • “Never smile at a salesperson.”
  • “Never accept the first price offered.”
  • “Visibly and negatively change your body language when you reach the subject of price.”

(“Reassuringly transparent” I remember thinking at the time……)

 It’s important to accept when selling that handling some form of pressure on our prices goes with the territory…. But we don’t have to succumb to it….. The antidote is to meticulously fit our ‘proposition’ with the quantified needs and wants of the customer (which means of course that we must firstly carefully and incisively build a quantified understanding of them). This is the central principle of value-added selling (the clue is in the title…) and it’s the key to professionally resisting the pressure to compromise on our prices.

It’s worth noting too that if we have sold the business value of our proposition effectively (groundless) price pressure may be the only tool of resistance our customer can reach for…….

 Points for you to ponder on:

  • Really understand from top-to-bottom where and how you add your value for your customer
    • Capture it and make it part of your organizational DNA
    • Believe in the value of what you do, not the propaganda. If you expect price pressure you won’t be disappointed…
    • Accept that selling, and the handling of price pressure, are closely related. (It’s part of the job).
    • The high ground provides the most rewarding view. (Who wants to be ‘cheap’?)
    • Direct link to the title of this article above: the fact that we all make price-versus-value judgements does not mean that we ‘buy on price’. It means that we will opt for the lower price if we do not perceive there to be extra value in the alternative offering…..

 And finally…….back to our Minister of Propaganda (a.k.a. ‘The Master Of The Big Lie’) …..

“The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield people from the political economic and / or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension truth is the greatest enemy of the State’.  Go figure……

 Steve Jessop is co-founder of sales improvement consultancy Quantum Sales & Marketing Services Ltd ( and The Sales Practitioners Group. He acts privately as a sales advisor for several SME sector businesses.

[email protected]   |  O7973 909648 |Twitter: @stevenjessop1



Shirley Mansfield is a highly experienced business coach and Master Problem Solver. With over 25 years’ experience, she founded CoachSME in 2011 to work with business owners to maximise growth, and she is still trying to reduce the 14 handicap! Keep up to date by following me on Twitter @coachsme