Are You Creating Anxiety For Your Customers?

Are you creating unnecessary anxiety for your customers?

People want to do business with people they feel comfortable with.  But sometimes a business can create little barriers and uncomfortable situations for their customers that can erode the trust and goodwill that a business works so had to build.  Businesses can sometimes unintentionally create confusion, frustration….and even anger in their customers without realizing it…..until it's too late.

In business, it's the little things, added together, that create a great experience for your customers.  Below are three areas that you can examine in your business to see if you are doing things that are making your customers uneasy.

Pricing

Whether it's on your website or in person, people like to see the pricing up front, written plainly in an easy to read format.  Nothing sends off the internal alarms in people more than when they see the words “call for a free quote!”.  Guess what?, most people aren't going to call, even if they are interested.  Why?  They're afraid of getting an outrageous price quoted to them that's beyond their budget and then have to be in the uncomfortable situation of backing out…..usually after they have given you all of their personal information.

Let people see your pricing up front, if your in an industry where you can't, offer sample price ranges for people to see so they know right away if it's something they can afford.  Usually if someone has to call for a quote there's usually already an underlying anxiety forming between you and the customer.  Start things off on the right foot and show your pricing up front and if you can't, explain why.

Communication

If a customer contacts you with a concern, how long does it take you to respond?  What if you're not available……do your employees tell the customer they have to wait until you, the business owner gets back to them?

The longer you leave your customers waiting for a response, especially for a concern they are having, the more time there is for the customer to build unnecessary anxiety and worry over the possible outcome.  You've done this before……you call a company with a concern, and you're told someone will call you back to address the issue.  Then you wait……and wait…..and wait, mentally going through the upcoming confrontation until you are annoyed, tense and aggravated……and you haven't even spoken to anyone yet!

Don't let your customers go through this kind of strife.  Even if you can't actually address the issue for a few days, give a polite phone call acknowledging the concern and assure them that you're going to everything you can to rectify the situation.

Consistency

This is where alot of businesses lose customers.

Being inconsistent in how you treat your customers and the experience you deliver to them can make them feel uneasy and wary of your business….they may be uneasy and not even know why.  On the Main Street in my town is a butcher shop, they have great stuff….much better than what you would find in a super market. When we first moved to the town, I was excited to try it out, now I only go when it's convenient for me.  Here's why.

One my first visit there with my children, the owner came over when we walked through the door, introduced himself, and asked for everyone's names.  We chatted for about 5 minutes and he gave all of my kids a treat from the treat jar he had hidden behind the counter.  It was great, the food was good, the people were nice and the kids got a treat.  Great!

On our second visit about a week later, the shop owner greeted us with a grin and a  “hi”, a far cry from the special treatment we got just a week before, but still pleasant.  He wasn't in the mood for chatting and wanted to hurry up and get our order filled so he could be on with his day.  As we were getting ready to leave (I didn't want to ask), his assistant offered the kids a treat, they were happy about that.

On our third visit about a week later, the shop owner said hi to me, but ignored my 3 children who were standing right next to me.  He filled my order but never offered the kids a treat.  As we walked out the door, my kids confusingly asked me why didn't they get a treat…..I told them “I don't know why”.  I really didn't.

Since then, each and everytime I go to this business, the experience changes.  Some days it's very pleasant, other days I'm almost ignored.

Now I rarely go to this butcher shop, the food is really good, I just don't like the experience I have when I go there.  Why don't I like it?  Because it's unpredictable.  I never know what I'm going to get, and for such an intimate setting (a very small store), it's uncomfortable to be a customer there.  The expectations are always changing, according to the mood and whims of the owner.  The experience centers around the business owner, not the customer.  That's not a way to do business.

Create a pleasant and predictable experience for your customers and they will always feel comfortable doing business with you.

What are your experiences?

What experiences have you had when dealing with businesses in your area?  Share them in the comments below!

 

 

 

Small Business Toolbox – January Twenty Fifth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Getlisted.org – If you're s small business and want to start building a local presence online, this is a great place to find link and citation opportunities for your website.  Recently acquired by Moz, which is one of the top SEO resources online.

Lucid Press – Online application that lets you create beautiful print and online publications.  Easy to use and currently free to sign up.

Gilbert Kaplan Quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Using The Principals Of Persuasion For Your Business

the small business playbook classic adHow persuasive are you?

Are you the type of business owner who can turn a random passer-by into a loyal customer with a 5 minute conversation, or do you struggle to effectively  convince potential customers to give you a try?

Robert Cialdini, author of the bestselling book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion writes about 6 key principals of human behavior that can help you in understand the key influencers that can turn potential customers into real customers.  Often times, people will see these principals as somewhat manipulative, when in fact, it's an important understanding of human principals that every business owner should understand about people.  Below are the 6 principals and some ideas on how you can use them for your business.

Reciprocation

People are obliged to give back to others who have given to them.  What do you do when you receive a Christmas card from someone you forgot to send one too?  You send one back right away because you feel both bad and obligated to return the kind gesture.

What you can do

Give a small gift to potential customers as a thank you for trying your services.  Send hand written notes to your customers, thanking them for being a trusted and loyal customer.  If you give without expecting things in return, good things usually happen.

Consensus

People decide what is appropriate for them to do in a situation by examining what others are doing there.  We do this all the time with clubs and restaurants.  If we are unfamiliar with a business, we look to see where the crowds are gathering and take that as social proof that it's a good place to be.  What do you think when you walk into a restaurant where you've never eaten before and it's empty on a Saturday night?  Exactly.

What you can do

Next time you run an open house or event for potential customers for your business, make sure it's busy!  Call down past customers, friends, neighbours to come down and be part of the action.  That busy and festive atmosphere you create will help with creating that “social proof” that you are a rockin' business.

Authority

People rely on those with superior knowledge or wisdom for guidance on how to respond.  When people are unsure about something, they look to someone who is sure.  That's usually someone they believe knows more about the subject than they do.  People defer to experts all the time, take your doctor for instance (though you should't always trust experts)

What you can do

Become an expert and the go to person in your industry by keeping up to date with the latest trends.  Speak and act like you know what your doing, it's not only knowing alot that matters…..its conveying that to others with the way you carry yourself.  Be loud and proud about what you know.

Consistency

Once people make a choice or take a stand, they will encounter personal and interpersonal pressure to behave consistently with what they have previously said or done.  This is the concept behind announcing your goals aloud to your friends and family…….it puts pressure on you to follow through on your bold claims that your going to run that half-marathon you've been bragging about doing.  Most people don't want to admit they were wrong, even if evidence later proves otherwise.  It's an ego thing.

What you can do

Get people to say “yes”.  The more you can get your customers to say yes and to agree with little things, the easier it will be to get the bigger yes (closing the sale) at the end. Getting agreement from a potential customer early and often is critical to closing the sale.

Scarcity

Opportunities appear more valuable when they are less available.  The Home Shopping Network made billions off of this principal.  When the spokesperson hocking that set of silicon bake-ware on TV tells you “Call now, we only have 200 of these left, if the phones are busy…..keep calling!”.  Guess what?  Hundreds (or thousands) of people run to their phones, hoping they haven't lost out on that “killer deal”.  That's creating perceived scarcity, whether it's actually scarce or not.  And yes, they have plenty in stock and you will be able to get through if you call.

What you can do

When you are running special offers, put a small window of time on which to act.  Often times, people need a little pressure in order to take action so don't be afraid to let your customers know (as long as its truthful) they will lose out if they don't act fast.

 Liking

People prefer to say “yes” to those they know and like.  People like to buy from people they like, even if the quality (to a certain degree) is less than that of a competitor that offers a similar product or service.  Mom and pop shops all over America are still in business today, not because they are cheaper or offer more than their bigger competitors, but their customers enjoy the conversation and experience they get out of visiting these little shops.

What you can do

Make you business a pleasant place to visit.  Do you train your employees to find out more about your customers?  Do you take the time to learn your regular customer's names?  Make visiting your business like visiting a friends house and turn your business into a place your customers don't want to leave.

 

What do you think about these principals?  Do you use them in your business?

 

You Can’t Be Smart About Marketing If You Don’t Understand Your ROI

A client called me the other day concerned about the amount of money spent on their Pay Per Click campaign last month.  Now this is a great client, one that every agency dreams of.  Good people, listens and acts on suggestions, trusts you and doesn't spend their days looking over your back.  Awesome to work with.

One problem.

No matter how many times we discuss the importance of it, keeping track of their lead sources and ROI on their marketing spend still eludes them.

Now from my end I can track their Pay Per Click spend, their analytics and their goal conversions.  I can see where the contact form leads are coming from (still trying to get them to track phone calls) and where people are spending their time on the site.  I track what I can, but they also do offline advertising that isn't set up for lead tracking (yet).   I also can't track what happens after that initial contact with the company.

This is always a challenge, trying to track the full conversion cycle with offline businesses.  Unless you're given full access to their business, you'll have to rely on them to give you final conversion data.  Sometimes this happens, most often it doesn't or is too vague to quantify.

Looking back at their Pay Per Click numbers last year I saw:

About 70 Pay Per Click leads where generated via their website contact form.

They receive over three times as many phone leads -vs- web form leads.  For this example we'll play conservative and say 100 leads came in via phone calls that originated from Pay Per Click.

They claim their conversion rate is about 50% with leads they follow up with, I think it's actually lower so I'll say 25%.

That leaves us with 170 leads from Pay Per Click.  With a 25% conversion rate, that leaves us with a conservative estimate of 42 deals landed through their Pay Per Click marketing efforts during the year.

Now this is a service company that sells a bigger ticket service.  They say their average sale is over $8K.  I'll round it down to $5K.

42 deals at 5K each is $210,000 in revenue.

They spent a total of $16,000 last year on Pay Per Click marketing.

Yes, you're reading that right.  For every dollar they spent on Pay Per Click marketing, they got over $13 in revenue.  This is a low end estimate.

When you read it that way, you would be willing to spend an unlimited amount of money on Pay Per Click to get those kind of results, wouldn't you?

But when you have no idea what your Return On Investment (ROI) is, you get concerned because you spent just over $1500 in a month and have no way of connecting your revenue to that money spent.

Now this client is great and is slowly moving towards making marketing decisions based on data, not gut feeling.  But how many businesses out there are slowly killing their business with poor marketing decisions?

The data and methods of obtaining it are out there.  It's easy to set up and with a little effort, easy to track.  Take the time to put systems in place to gather the data and then spend all of the time necessary to understand it.  If you do this, you'll be surprised by how efficient you can make your marketing dollars.

 

Small Business Toolbox – January Eighteenth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

QRnme.me – Create a mobile friendly business card in the cloud you can share with others.  Nice and clean layout, easy to use and free.

Libre Office – The best open source alternative to Microsoft Office.  The community over at The Document Foundation do an outstanding job keeping it up to date and compatible with Office documents.

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Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

3 Questions Great Managers Always Ask Themselves

You can work for a great company, but if you have a poor manager as your direct supervisor, you won't be happy there.

Same with school, you can be in a poor performing school but have an inspiring teacher that can inspire you to become a better person.

It's the person that is closest to you that affects you the most.

As a business owner, the success of your employees and your business rests on you.  You are the leader, manager and role model.  Your employees look to you for guidance.  You set the tone and culture for your business.  People want to work for people that inspire them, that teach them, that are looking out for them.

dilbert-managementDilbert

Are you attracting and retaining great talent or are you driving them away with your management style?

Great managers are hard to find, most just get in the way of productivity and serve to annoy those under their supervision.  Am I exaggerating?  Maybe, but we've all had managers like that in the past, where their only true purpose was to look over your shoulder and coach you on things they were clueless about.

So what's the difference between a great manager and a mediocre one?  There are lots of things actually, much more than can be covered in a single blog post.  I'm going to share with you what I think separates great managers from mediocre ones.

Whenever a situation arises, the first thing they do is look to themselves.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” ― Stephen R. Covey

No knee jerk reaction to find someone to blame.

No excuse making.

No yelling.

They pause and reflect before taking action.

A great manager understands that they have a lot of responsibility and their action or inaction can have an enormous impact on the performance of those working under them.  They understand that ultimately they are responsible for everyone below them.  They know that the only person who buys an excuse is the person giving it.

If you're a business owner, then you sit at the top of the pyramid, nobody above you to blame.  Yes, you're responsible for everything that happens, directly or indirectly.

I think great managers understand the art of thinking before speaking.  When something happens or someone screws up, the first thing they do is look to themselves.

Before they open their mouth, they ask themselves the following questions, in this order:

Was this my fault?

Most of the time, the question asking stops here.  You can usually trace the origin of the problem back to something you did or didn't do properly.  It can be failing to properly communicate your expectations, inadequate training or abdicating responsibility when you were supposed to be delegating it.

A great manager will start the scrutiny process with themselves before looking to external causes.  They'll look at ways they could have prevented the problem in the first place and then take action to minimize the chance of it happening again.

A poor manager will look to place blame as far away from themselves as possible, usually at all costs.  In real world terms it's called throwing someone under the bus.  People hate this and it's the quickest way to lose the respect of the people working for you.

Was there a breakdown in the process?

Many times it's not the employee that's to blame for screwing up, it's the process itself.  Maybe there aren't enough checks and balances in place or gaping holes in the process where people have to make assumptions they shouldn't have to.

A great manager will look to see if there are flaws in the current process that needs to be fixed.  You can often find process breakdowns by speaking to your employees, they'll be more than happy to share them with you.  Breakdowns in the process are great opportunities to diagnose and strengthen them.

A poor manager will leave gaping holes in the process and then yell and scream when things don't go perfectly.  These managers expect you to “read their minds”.

Is this an Employee Concern?

Maybe you need to provide more training or communicate with them more often to set expectations.  Maybe they're in the wrong position and you have them doing something they're not suited for.

Maybe you just hired the wrong person.

You should never feel good about firing someone.  As a manager or business owner, if you ever have to fire someone, it's because you failed.  You failed at one of 3 things:

  • You failed at hiring the right person
  • You failed at training this person
  • You failed at properly managing this person

Yes, the buck stops with you, even when they screw up.

As you can see, all 3 questions really track back to the same thing, you.  Great business owners understand that they are ultimately responsible for everything that happens with their business.

Small Business Toolbox – January Eleventh

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Chrome Extensions – This one isn't a single app or service but a gallery of thousands of neat browser applications.  Many on-tech savvy people have no idea that, if you use Chrome as your browser, there are thousands of third party applications you can add to your browser to make your productivity skyrocket.  If you use Firefox, they have a similar setup with extensions.

Live Minutes – Cool collaboration tool that lets you work inside a virtual workspace with co-workers and use a variety of mediums to connect with each other.  Free and soon to come paid plans available.

Alan Alda quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

How To Earn More Referrals Every Month

Become hub for your clientsReferrals are your best source of business.  They come with recommendation in hand, looking to do business with you based on the advice of someone they (hopefully) know and trust.  A wonderful source of business.

Many professional services industries, like real estate agents and accountants,  live off of referrals from current and past clients.

But what happens when you're not getting enough referrals to grow or even sustain your business?

This usually happens when…..

  • You're a new business and your customer base isn't big enough to generate a meaningful amount of referrals yet
  • You're generating referrals, but not enough to grow your business bigger than where you are now
  • You're an existing business but don't generate many referrals (big red flag for you)

While referral business is the holy grail of lead generation, it's not something that happens by chance.  Businesses that thrive off of referral business work hard at building relationships and are proactive in generating them.

This doesn't mean they are pushy when it comes to asking for referrals, though there's nothing wrong with making it clear you'd love one, it means they put themselves in a position where it's natural for others to recommend them.

What is Referral Marketing?

Simply put, it's creating and executing marketing strategies that will lead to people referring you. It's many of the  activities that you are probably doing now, except that now you have a clear outcome in mind and you've created a plan to deliver those activities on a consistent basis.

Referrals don't always come naturally

Even if you're awesome at what you do, most people won't refer you to their friends.  Why?  It's not in their nature.

Ever read reviews online?  Almost all of the reviews you read on Yelp or Amazon, come from a small fraction of people that buy and use those products and services.  They are people that like to share their experiences with others, good and bad.

The others?  They simply use whatever it is they purchased with no thought about sharing it with others.  It just never occurs to them.  They need a nudge, they need you to put them in a position where it's almost impossible for them to not refer you.  Just doing a great job and hoping for a referral doesn't work with these people.

So what do you do?

You create a plan.

It starts with making the decision that referrals are a real part of your marketing strategy and not something that is left to chance.  It's about being proactive in your efforts, doing activities that will put you in prime position for a referral.

I think the most important part of creating a referral plan to is create consistency.  Many of the activities we'll talk about below you're probably already doing, but not consistently and without a clear outcome in mind.

Below is what I do when it comes to positioning myself for a referral.  You may do things a little differently and may add or remove some activities, the main point is that you have a plan and remain proactive in generating referrals for your business.

Organize Contacts

The first step is to organize yourself.  This is hard for me.  I love to organize, the trouble is that I try and use too many things to organize myself, pen and paper, several different apps…..I'm like a digital squirrel storing information randomly across platforms and can rarely find information when I really need it.

I don't need a full fledged CRM, I've tried several times in the past and it never stuck.  Now I use two tools, Gmail (actually the business version, Google Apps) and Evernote.

Inside Gmail, I use the Contact manager to store my contacts and to organize them.  The Contact manager inside Gmail is actually pretty powerful.  Some of the highlights are:

  • Create custom fields inside each contact, sort of like a tagging system, so you can easily search through your contacts based on the Tags you've created
  • It uses Google's powerful search platform to accurately find what you're looking for inside your contact list
  • You can create Groups for your contacts and add each contact to a single or multiple Groups
  • If they have a Google+ profile, it will automatically populate the contact page with their G+ info
  • You can call your contacts directly from the Contact manager

As you can see, there are lots of powerful features inside the Gmail Contact Manager, I haven't listed them all, just the highlights.

The way I organize my contact list is to create different Groups to organize my list.  You can organize your groups how it will best work for you.  For me, I create my groups based on location for my clients, specifically by country.  From there, I create custom fields (or use the dozen or so standard choices in Gmail) and add Tags to each client based on how I will need to pull up my list as needed.

An example is using the Birthday field in your contact list.  If you wanted to send a birthday card to your clients for next month, you can simply do a search for “Birthday March” and Gmail will pull up a list of contacts that have the “March” Tag under the Birthday field.  You can basically set this Tagging system up anyway you like as Gmail lets you create your own custom fields.

When it comes to Evernote, I use it to find, store and share useful information I find for my clients.  If you've never used Evernote, it can be a game changer in how you organize not only your business, but your life.  It takes awhile to get into it, but once you make the decision to “jump in”, you'll probably never go back to anything else.

So the way I use Evernote in this case is to save useful articles and items I find on the web that would be useful for my clients.  Evernote lets you “clip” items from the web from your browser, phone or tablet with the push of a button. I save useful articles (organized in several “Notebooks” in Evernote) that I find on the web that may be useful to my clients.  Once saved in Evernote I can then share these resources with my clients when I want to reach out to them.  It's part of my strategy of becoming a resource for my clients, even outside of our business relationship.

An example of how you would use this is to save articles you find related to one of your clients industry.  Maybe they missed this information and would appreciate that you're looking out for them.  You can also use it if you know what hobbies or sports teams your client likes, share information you find that they might have missed.  It's a great reason to connect with a client besides the old boring line of, “Hey, just calling to see how you're doing”.

Don't waste people's time, if you're going to reach out, be useful.

Be a Resource

Like I mentioned above, part of my strategy is to become a resource for my clients, even outside of our business relationship.  Being super useful to them helps to create bonds that outsiders won't be able to break without a sledgehammer.  It protects your relationship and gives you some peace of mind knowing a “cold call” to your client from a competitor is easily deflected.

The more you can “give” to your clients, the more they will be willing to “give” back to you.  I read somewhere once, don't remember where, that you should give 20 times to someone for every time you ask for something.  The key here is to keep giving value non-stop to your clients so when the time comes for you to ask, they're ecstatic for the opportunity to help you.

Be a Connector

To take it to the next level, don't just look for opportunities to connect with your client, look for opportunities to connect them with other valuable resources.  Great networkers are always looking for opportunities to connect people in their network with each other.  They thrive on being the person that brings others together and makes things happen.  It's in their nature and it's very satisfying to them.

Become the “Hub” in your client's business life.  Be the person that brings it all together, the first person they think about when they need help, even if it's not your field of expertise.  They contact you because they know if you can't help them, you'll know someone who can.  You've now become an indispensable resource for that client.

Ask for Help

If you've accomplished the above and have become a great resource for your clients, asking them for help should be the easy part.  People naturally want to help people they like, especially if they feel “they owe them one”.  If you've built up enough good will, they'll be more than happy to help.

People think that other's don't like it when you ask for their help, but quite the contrary.  People live to be helpful, it gives them a great sense of satisfaction knowing someone else thought them valuable enough to ask for help.  Ben Franklin knew this well.  He knew all about the power of asking for favors..

I prefer to ask for help on a one on one level, it works better when it's personalized.  I might send a dozen or so emails asking clients that I'm available to take on another client and if they knew someone who might find my service helpful, I'd appreciate any leads.  I rarely have to as many clients naturally refer me, but the few occasions I have, it worked great.

You can also ask for help en mass via social media or your email list.  Are you a Realtor with a new house on the market?  Instead of crafting a superlative laden cheesy sales pitch, why not just contact your clients and ask them for help in selling this house.  Ask them (as a favor to you) to search their own networks to see if this property will be a fit for anyone they know.  If you've built enough good will, this works.

Say Thank You

Always say thank you when someone helps you out, always.  I try for a phone call or hand written note, but an email will work too.  If they know you really appreciate it, they're much more likely to help you again in the future.  You'd be surprised how many people miss this step and are then surprised when people aren't so eager to help them a second time.

Even if their help didn't pan out for you, thank them just the same.

What do you do to earn more referrals?

The above is what I do to help earn more referrals, there are lots of other ways to do it too.  The key is to no let referrals happen by chance.  Create a plan where you become so helpful to your clients that they will do backflips to help you when call on them for help.

Small Business Toolbox – January Fifth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Sound Gecko – Web app that turns text based articles into audio so you can listen to your favorite articles in the car, gym or just relaxing at home.  Free and paid plans available.  Super useful if you want to learn on the go.

Just Dropped – Lets you search for recently expired website domain names.

Walt Disney Quote Customer Service

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

It’s Not About Price, It’s About Value

“How much?”

As a business owner, you've heard this phrase hundreds, if not thousands of times from potential customers.

How do you usually respond to this question?  Before you answer, you should first understand what that potential customer is really asking you.

When they ask “How much”, what they are really asking you is “What will I gain if I buy this product?”

There are a few things you need to understand about this loaded question that will help you to formulate a response that will help turn them from skeptical potential customer, to paying customer.

How much something costs is relative

When someone inquires about price, they are comparing it to something else, something relative that they understand.

Example; they are inquiring about hiring you, an accountant, to do their family tax preparations.  In the past, they have used a low cost tax preparation franchise which they were moderately satisfied with.

See what can potentially happen here?  If you only quote a price, they will compare that price to their previous experience (low cost tax franchise service) and assume you provide something similar, because they have nothing else to compare you to.

How to fix this

Ask the potential customer, “Have you ever used a tax preparation service before, and if so, who?”

Based on the response, you will immediately understand what you are being compared to and will now have a chance to highlight your differences and competitive advantage.  It's important to understand your competition and know their flaws so you can highlight your advantages over them in a way that, at the same time, does not disparage them.

They want to know the value they will receive for that price

If I asked you “Is 20K too much to pay for a car?”, what would you say?  Of course, the obvious response would be “What kind of car?”  At this price point a 5 year old Honda Civic would be a rip off, while a brand new Range Rover would be steal.

Most people that walk into your business for the first time have no idea what you do or what kind of value you provide.  You can't leave it up to them to make that determination, it's up to you to show them why they need your products or services.

How to fix this

Ask the customer, “Have you ever been here before or used our services?”  If the answer is no, you can say “Well welcome, let me tell you a little about what we offer”  Give them your value proposition, help them to understand how better off they will be if they decide to do business with you.

It's all about showing them the value

They don't want you to dodge the question

While you should almost never just quote a price without first demonstrating what you do and what value you have to add, you should also never dodge the price question.  That's what used car salesman do and it drives people nuts.

Make sure you answer the price question, but only after you are able to find out a little more from the potential customer and can give your value proposition.

How to fix this

When someone asks you “How much?”, tell them, “I'd be happy to give you our pricing…..in order to make sure i'm giving you accurate information, can I just ask you a few brief questions?”  If you let them know right off that bat that you will be answering the price question, and not dodging it, most of the time they will give you a minute to speak.  This is your “in” and you should use it to ask a few qualifying questions in order to deliver them that value packed response.

Summary

As you can see, they key to answering the “How much?” question is finding out more about the potential customer and having the opportunity to give your value proposition.  You want to do this in a way that is not rude, is brief, and lets them know that you are not trying to dodge their price question.

For most business owners and salespeople this is too much work.  Most of the time they will quote a price with the attitude of “If they want us, they know where to find us”.  This is the reason most people are so blunt with the “How much?” question in the first place, they are used to being treated in a blunt manner.

Take that extra time to ask questions, formulate a response and show the value you have to offer. You may find that you'll be able to turn some of those blunt price questions into a valuable customer relationships.