Pricing – just say how much will ya?

by Michele on July 6, 2011

Michele Christensen on pricing for solopreneurs

Just say the price, please

Most solopreneurs I come in contact with love what they do and want more than anything to help people.  They aren’t born salespeople and can feel uncomfortable with talking sales or pricing.  I didn’t like sales at all when I first started, but now I know that sales doesn’t have to be high pressure or manipulative and I like it a lot more.  I now think of sales and marketing as presenting myself and my services in the best possible way to assist people in deciding if I’m a good fit for them.

In the last few weeks though, I’ve read some articles that suggested tactics I’m uncomfortable with.  The theme of these articles is that when talking to a new prospect that you duck any question involving price until you are ready to present the issue.  At least, that’s how I describe the techniques in my words.  They presented various ducking tactics but none of them simply answered the question “How much do you charge?”  Most sales trainers would disagree with me, but if someone asks you that very direct question I think you should answer them with a dollar amount when they ask.  The only time I would say something different is if I’m not sure which package or pricing plan would be best for a person and if that’s the case I tell them so.

I know if I asked the direct, simple, clear question of “How much do you charge?” and got a song-and-dance instead of an answer I’d feel all sorts of things and none of them point to signing up with the person.  It feels condescending to me to assume I know better than my prospect what they need.  I almost always have a price ceiling in mind when I’m considering a purchase and if we can establish in the first 5 minutes that the service exceeds that ceiling then there’s no point in wasting any more time.  If someone didn’t answer my pricing question, I’d be concerned that it must be a huge figure or they would have stated it.  I also think it gets in the way of a deep conversation where you can be of service regardless of whether the person buys or not.  If I’m wondering about pricing and the person ducks my question, I’m going to be thinking about price not what we are actually talking about.

Am I unique in this?  How would or do you feel when you ask about pricing and get an evasive answer?  Have you used this technique with your prospects?


  1. Donna says:

    I agree with you about pricing. I think it should be open. I don’t like a song and dance routine in most (all???) areas of my life. Let me see/hear the price and then I can think about how it would fit into my life. Let me choose! My price ceiling shifts. I may buy clothes at a thrift store yet then spend more on something for my business because inexpensive/cheap won’t take me very far down the road. Started to car shop with my daughter last week and no signs on the cars along with a salesperson who wouldn’t tell prices. I am out of there! That was so frustrating since my daughter would love to think that any car on the lot was possible!! Grrr! (Note: I know not all car dealers are like this.)

    1. Michele says:

      Donna, I agree totally with all your points! I hate going through a song and dance when it isn’t necessary, and my price ceiling is different depending on the circumstances. In most cases, I already know what my ceiling is and if the product or service is more than that then there is no point in wasting anyone’s time.

  2. Sarah says:

    Michele, thank you so much for this insightful piece. Oftentimes, I have no idea what a product or service “should” cost, and it’s the primary question in my mind when I’m looking at a website or making a call – before I can consider features and benefits. If I get a song and dance, I’m not listening – I’m wondering how much this will cost me!

    1. Michele says:

      Sarah, you took the words right out of my mouth! I feel the same way – if I get a song and dance, I’m not listening. I need to know the price before I hear and process the features and benefits.

  3. I agree with you too. Maybe price shouldn’t be the customer’s primary consideration, but if it is, let’s get it out there – if it’s not in their budget, let’s save us both a lot of time!

    1. Michele says:

      Janet, I agree! For me, price is almost always the #1 consideration. I almost can’t hear anything the other person says until I have a price. I want that number so I can weigh the features and benefits against it. I almost always know how much I’d be willing to pay for something before the conversation begins, so if it’s over that amount it’s not worth either of our time to have a conversation. I also almost never opt-in or click to a new page to get the price.

  4. Don Talbert says:

    I like to get pricing up front, as not to waste someone’s time. If it’s more than I want to spend, no amount of selling the benefits will change my mind.
    Also, I like to get pricing for my services out early. I don’t want to waste my own valuable time, talking with someone who can’t afford me. However, the pricing usually comes up as I am in qualifying mode. I ask a number of questions, to determine if the prospect is qualified to work with me. Price is only one element of that.

    1. Michele says:

      Don, me too on both points – I like to get pricing up front when I’m the buyer and the seller. Thanks for your comment – this idea goes against what I most often hear as good selling practices so it’s nice to hear your opinion.

  5. Nola Cooper says:

    While I agree with your article in principle, there are those of us who cannot give a price until we have more information (as Don said). In my case I have to know more about what clients need (website design) before I can give them a price. I am happy to give a base price, but their end project may be nowhere near that.

    Of course, I’m not evasive when asked about price. I explain the process. Most people understand this, and are happy to get an accurate quote instead of a “ballpark”. It’s very rare that anyone walks away because they have to give me more information. If they do, I have no desire to work with them, anyway.

    1. Michele says:

      Nola, I totally agree with you. Sometimes you do need more information to give someone an answer. For me, the key thing is to explain that fact rather than just duck the question. You also make a good point that this can be a good way to screen out some people – if they can’t or won’t give you more information at this stage of the process, they are probably not going to be good to work with. Michele

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