By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
How should sellers reply when they are not going to win a transaction but are asked for a “best and final” number? Some respond with the lowest possible price with the thought being they may be able to steal the business (unlikely) or at least make it a skinny deal for their competitors. It’s not a tactic I endorse.
I believe floating aggressive prices can come back to haunt sellers if and when the roles may be reversed in the future. It would be awkward if a seller’s customers got wind of pricing that was lower than what they paid.
My suggestion when asked for best and final pricing is to ask:
“Am I the vendor of choice and is price the last remaining obstacle?”
- If the person asking is not a decision maker, indicate that he/she, the decision maker, your manager and you would have to meet to see if the transaction could be completed.
- If the person asking for better pricing says you are not yet the vendor of choice you can respond:
“It sounds as though you have more work to do in finalizing your decision. If I become the vendor of choice at that time we can all meet to see if we can come to terms. For now, let’s leave pricing as an open item.”
Some positive things happen by taking this approach:
- You avoid putting low ball numbers on the street
- The “buyer” hasn’t gotten what he or she wants
- It makes sense for both parties not to negotiate unless you are Column A
Always and never don’t usually apply to sales, but my suggestion is to always act as though you are Column A when asked for better pricing. If you are, buyers will come back to you. If you’re not, you keep your dignity by not getting dragged into a discounting death spiral.