Can you afford it? Is it worth it? Do you know you need it?

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Getting The Edge In Professional Selling — Terence A. Hockenhull

ONE OF THE MOST common objections is: “It’s too expensive!”

The statement by a customer that something costs too much can mean a number of different things. Normally, we interpret it as a client’s way of saying that the item does not represent good value for money. The customer is telling us that the item is not worth the price that the salesman is asking.

However, it is possible that what the client really means is that he doesn’t have the budget to make this particular purchase. Bear in mind that many of today’s corporate buyers determine exactly what they want and how much they will have to pay for it, long before they meet the suppliers, vendors, contractors or salesmen. To find a buyer with an “unlimited budget” is rare. It is not difficult to determine what the customer really means.


Ask the question, “Are you concerned about exceeding your budget for this purchase, or do you feel that the item doesn’t represent value for money?” The customer’s response will tell you whether the objection is a “value” or “capability” issue. Objections that relate to the worth of the product fall into the “value” category. If the price exceeds the client’s budget, the objection is a “capability”issue.

Designer brands and labels hold a degree of intrinsic value for many people. This is the very reason some people are prepared to pay a premium.

Others (like me) are more concerned with form and function. Of course, I am interested in the reputation of the manufacturer and the quality of the item. However, the name itself holds little value. I rarely buy designer items for this very reason. My thought process when offered an expensive brand is: “Having a patch on my backside that advertises some fashionable brand really isn’t important to me, so why I should pay for something that I don’t want or need?”

When a salesperson offers me a poorly made product that carries a high price, I may similarly respond: “It is too expensive.” In this case, I don’t think it is worth the cost.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a department store buying pots and pans. Some of the kitchenware appeared to be reasonably priced until I examined it closely. Made of cheap, low-quality materials with blemishes and faults in the finishing, I didn’t buy because the goods didn’t represent good value for money.

A professional salesperson should take the time to determine why a customer is raising a value objection. When the value of the product rests in a feature that the client doesn’t need, the salesperson should look for a more appropriate item to sell. If the objection occurs because the product is low-quality and not worth the asking price, he would do well to ask himself why he is trying to sell something that has very low marketability.

If he sells in a market with little or no competition, he might still make sales. In a competitive marketplace, he will not be able to sell.

Sometimes, the objection occurs because of a misperception. For example, a client may believe an item is identical to all other products offered in the market. A closer evaluation may show that one product is demonstrably better than the rest. If the salesperson hasn’t bothered to take the time to explain this, then it is his fault when he loses the sale to a cheaper alternative.

When the issue is capability, and the client lacks the budget to buy, the salesperson can try to sell the idea of increasing the budget. This can only be done if the client is convinced that a higher price is necessary to secure the item he wants and needs. Alternatively, he can look for a cheaper product that will not necessarily meet all of the client’s needs and do his best to sell the features of this.

A third way of handling this type of objection is to be creative. Perhaps the item can be sold on a lease-to-purchase scheme, or maybe the item can be stripped of all of the optional extras to get it into budget.

Objection handling is not difficult providing the salesperson understands why the customer is really objecting. Forethought, planning, and exemplary selling practices will prevent most objections from occurring in the first place.

Terence A. Hockenhull is a long-term resident of the Philippines. He is an accomplished sales consultant who currently holds an executive sales position with an Italian geotechnical company.