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What If You Couldn’t Discount?

by David Brock on July 27th, 2021

How would buying and selling change if you couldn’t discount? What if the price is the price period?

There would be no more, “If you give me an order by the end of the quarter, I’ll give you X% off…” or, “We’re running a promotion….” or, “What if I could come in Y% lower than the alternative….” or, “For you, we will offer a special price….”

What if the price was the price? What if there were no discounts for making a decision sooner, no discounts for who you are as a buyer, no discounts even for volume or phase of the moon?”

From a customer point of view, things would be much simpler. No more wondering if they were getting the best deal possible. No more wondering, “If they are offering this now, that might mean I could get something better later….” The customer would be clear that they and everyone else is getting the same deal.

From a sales point of view, it means we would have to change how we sell and how we win.

We might try to win, by trying to convince the customer we have more features/functions than the alternatives, or product superiority. I can imagine, “Our price per feature is this, the competition has fewer features, so they are really more expensive on a feature basis.” Any smart customer would respond, “Why should I pay for all those features I’m not going to use….”

We would probably be forced to win on value creation. We would have to think about, “How are we helping the customer solve their problem? What results/return are they getting as a result of implementing our solution? Does our solution help them achieve their goals more effectively than any alternatives? How do we show that doing nothing is not a viable alternative? How do we reduce the risk the customer faces, and by how much?”

We would probably be forced to think about the value we create in the buying process or even in inciting the customer to buy. “How do we help customers recognize the need to change? How do we help them manage the buying process? How do we help them make sense of what they are experiencing? How do we help them learn, grow, innovate, and improve? How do we demonstrate how much we care? How do we help the customer make a high quality/low regret decision?”

Ironically, when we don’t have pricing as a crutch we leverage to sell, we have to change how we sell to focus on what the customer really cares about–which is being successful, growing, and improving.

In my first sales job, I worked for a company that had a published “list price.” The same price applied to all customers, regardless of size, time of quarter, anything. Our competitors could easily learn our prices and almost always offered significantly lower prices.

But I won more. I beat my competition a majority of the time. Some of it was the quality of our products and the power of our brand. Mostly, I won because I was forced to focus on the things the customer really cared about, demonstrating our superiority in helping them achieve it. Price was the smallest part of the discussion because the only way the customer would buy was the value and business case we created. And that’s what their management cared about in approving their recommendations.

Maybe more companies should start doing this. Maybe more should start adopting, “The price is the price strategy.” It would increase the certainty and confidence with the customer, knowing they are getting our best deal. It would change how we sell to focus on customer success and the value we create with them.

All in all, it seems to be a win-win for all.

Afterword: This post was originally published on July 9, 2021. Due to a site error, all July posts were lost. I’m republishing them. Thanks for your patience.

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