Today’s Practical Tactical Tuesday is going to be a complete re-publishing of a Monday Morning Memo from Roy H. Williams, followed by a Web example or two. Not because I’m lazy, but because I think this information is that important and practical for small business owners, freelancers, consultants.  So here it is:

The single biggest mistake made in face-to-face selling is the seller’s reluctance to name the price.

When your customer asks, “How much?” the next syllable to leave your lips should be the first digit of a number.

“But you don’t understand. That’s just not possible in my business. We have to gather some information before we can name a price.

Piffle and pooh. This is not true.

“Okay then, Smarty-pants, ‘How much is a 1-carat diamond?’”

Twenty thousand dollars is the most I’ve ever heard of anyone paying for a flawless, colorless, ideal-cut, 1-carat diamond but I can also get you a highly-flawed 1-carat diamond for about a thousand dollars but I doubt you’re looking for either of those. A truly beautiful 1-carat diamond – the kind you can really be proud of – usually costs between 29 hundred and 39 hundred dollars depending on the specific combination of color, clarity and cut you choose. Some shoppers fixate on color, others on clarity, others on cut, some try to balance all three. Have you made any hard-and-fast decisions about color, clarity and cut, or are you open to a couple of suggestions?

See how easy that was?

If you want to:

  1. reduce your customer’s anxiety and
  2. increase your customer’s confidence in you and
  3. elevate their attention and
  4. make them feel comfortable and in control,

just train yourself to listen for the price question and then, when you hear it,

  1. be sure no sound leaves your lips before you
  2. take a breath and
  3. spit out the price.

The reason you take a breath is because you aren’t going to pause before you explain all the cool stuff that’s included at no extra charge.  Once a price is on the table, customer anxiety is eliminated and the longer you list things included in that price, the cheaper the price becomes.

“What do you mean, ‘customer anxiety is eliminated?’”

Customers feel a bit anxious when they ask the price because that’s usually the salesperson’s cue to launch into attack-and-destroy mode. “Here, step into my office and fill out this customer information sheet. Tell us a little about yourself so we can serve you better. And be sure to include your email address and cell phone number.”

“We don’t do anything like that. We just want to list all the features and benefits before we name the price.”

So I’m assuming your customer asks, “How much is the mobile home next to the road?” and you say, “What a good eye you have! That’s an authentic Northfield mobile home with 6-inch stud walls, wood burning fireplace, vaulted ceilings, color coordinated draperies, built-in appliances and wall-to-wall carpeting. That mobile home is fully air-conditioned, has an R-40 insulation value, comes with a 5-year limited warranty and…” Something like that?

“Yeah, sort of.

When you leave the price question dangling in the air like that – twisting in the wind like a man hanged for stealing chickens – the customer won’t hear anything you say until you finally cut that hanged man down by naming a price. The longer you talk before you finally name a number, the more your customer thinks, “These clowns have a horrible price and they know it or they would answer my question.”

“Well, okay, but how about those times when the customer knows exactly which make and model they want and prices are easily compared but your company adds a bunch of intangibles and you need to make sure the customer recognizes the value of those intangibles? If you name the price right away, they’ll just say, ‘Thank you,’ and walk away and you’ll never have the chance to explain why your price is higher than the price of that cut-throat, lying, cheating, thieving, drug-dealing whore of a competitor down the street.”

Give me an example. Ask me the question that scares you most.

“What’s your best price on the new Northfield Tierra del Sol mobile home? And before you answer, we want you to know that we’ve already checked the price at 7 other authorized Northfield dealers.”

Forty-two thousand six hundred and twelve dollars which includes at No extra charge: Delivery, Tie-down, Set-up, Floor Leveling and reinforcement in 28 key points so your floor never sags or squeaks – and we supply all the labor and materials by the way – and we connect your new Tierra del Sol home to your water meter and septic system so you don’t have to call a plumber and then our carpenters construct a 6 by 12 foot redwood front porch for you at no extra charge and build a 20 by 20 foot redwood back deck at no charge and, finally, a beautiful 2-car carport – your choice of whether it’s attached to the home or free standing. Oh, and I almost forgot: we also deliver and set up a Weber gas barbecue grill and put 20 pounds of USDA Choice rib-eye steak in your freezer as a little housewarming gift.

See what I mean when I say, “the longer you list things included in the price, the cheaper the price becomes?”

Just take a breath and name a number. That breath gives you all the time you need to qualify the number you’ve just named.

Now go sell something.

Roy H. Williams

Applying This Outside of 1-on-1 Sales

Great stuff, right?

But you might be tempted to think that Roy’s advice only applies to Face to Face selling. Well, it doesn’t.  You can apply it to the Web just as easily. Check out Copybloggers, pricing plan for Premise:

They give you the price pure and simple, which speaks of confidence — these guys know that their product is worth way more than they are asking. And even though $165 is quite a bit of money by WordPress plug-in standards, one look at all the included unlimited access items, and you understand just what a bargain it represents.

Or, it would be a bargain If, of course, the QUALITY of those services is up to speed. But, hey, you got 30 days to test drive it, risk free.

Worth giving some serious thought to whether YOU might be able to take this same approach to your personal and online sales efforts…

P.S.  I am plugging Premise in this post because I think their Website demonstrates great applied marketing expertise, and not necessarily as an endorsement of the product itself. But if you’re curious, I DO, in fact, think Premise is a phenomenal product and will be doing some reviews on it to explain and demonstrate why I think it’s all that and a bag of chips in the near future. 


  1. Katherine Andes on 03.14.2012

    Thanks, I needed that. I’ve been feeling guilty giving out prices early on in conversations … I think I’ll try something like, “A typical web page typically costs around $600 give or take a couple of hundred …”

  2. Jeff on 03.14.2012


    Thanks for the comment, but I feel compelled to emphasize what is probably implied by the ellipses: “A typical web page runs around $600, but that includes, at no additional charge, an hour’s worth of pre-writing uncovery and consultation, full SEO optimization for the copy, full link integration with other internal pages optimized for persuasive flow/momentum, one free re-write if you want tweaks or changes made to the page, one 30-minute post-writing phone consultation… and so on.

    What most non-copywriters don’t understand is exactly how much non-writing work goes into the creation of effective web copy that has to be covered under the per-page pricing. This allows you to get that worked out when talking about price.