Let me make a confession: When I buy products and services from vendors, I push back on price. Sometimes I’m even a price bully.

But after years of negotiating with salespeople, I started to notice something about my own behavior: The harder a salesperson worked to get my business, the less likely I was to push back on price.

I even came up with a name for this phenomenon. I call it “The Sweat Continuum.” Here’s a graphic representation.

Seller’s knowledge of me and my business:

Low High

Every salesperson I deal with falls somewhere on that continuum. At one extreme is the seller who, even after repeated contacts, seems to know little about me or my business. I push back hard on price with these people.

At the other extreme is the seller who listens carefully to my needs, who’s obviously studied my business and works very hard to map his or her product directly to my needs.

When a seller is at that end of my Sweat Continuum, I feel embarrassed to push back on price. A good, knowledgeable salesperson has got me engaged in robust discussion about mission-critical issues like service, delivery, compatibility, technical support, ease-of-use, and so on. Price just falls to the bottom of my priority list. As long as the price seems fair, I’d feel like a jerk even bringing it up.

So, if you’re getting an unusual amount of price objections, that’s a flag. It could be that your customers are feeling like easy marks. They want to see you sweat more to earn their business.

photo credit: luis de bethencourt

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