How do you respond to "You're too expensive?"
October 9, 2014 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Sales Question from a non-Sales Guy: How do you respond to people who say, "You're too expensive?"

I work for a food and gifting company. We have a history and legacy of delivering finer quality products. I work in Social Media and we get a ton of positive comments whenever I post something.

However, I also get a common objection: "You're too expensive" (or "You're too pricey.") What are some of the ways you can respond to that? I want to do so politely, but am not sure how to do it without coming off defensive.

Of course, this also begs the question: should I respond to price comments? We get a lot of positive comments from people about our products. My instinct is to let the love from our community drown out the price questions. But I also believe that every comment deserves a response.

Any advice for the non-Sales guy?
posted by zooropa to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Don't address the negative comments, or offer some solutions. If someone says, "You're too expensive," you could ask what the poster's price range is and offer something that matches that range.
posted by xingcat at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2014 [8 favorites]

You don't have to answer every question. You could say something about quality but if it's a common objection then you'll just be repeating yourself over and over again. You need to focus on addressing objections and questions where you can actually say something meaningful about your product that might sway the potential buyer.

Or check this article in Entrepreneur. Or the other million articles on the topic.

I think the main thread in all of them is having a conversation about the product rather than about the price. In social media it's really tough to have a nuanced conversation with a meaningful back-and-forth so I think this is one area where it might be better to simply let it lie.
posted by GuyZero at 8:30 AM on October 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I mean, these are just one-off mentions? Don't even address, or give a form response like, "I will pass your feedback along to our marketing team!"

If it were people who got halfway into a negotiation and brought it up, that would be different.
posted by supercres at 8:31 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

But I also believe that every comment deserves a response.

It's the internet, you can't possibly mean that.

Otherwise, if y'all are getting a lot of the "You're too expensive" comments, then consider making less expensive sampler, where people can sample a few things. But if "We have a history and legacy of delivering finer quality products," I see little reason to try for the low end market.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:41 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

I worked at AT&T and BellSouth, and we'd hear that occasionally. My pat response was, "No one ever regretted buying the best."

When you are a luxury item, that's what it is. Of COURSE it's expensive. That's a feature, not a bug. You are selling the world's best things in a beautiful presentation. Own it.

Louis Vuitton doesn't care that someone thinks a gorgeous leather handbag is the same price as a Kia. They smile and take their money to the bank.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:54 AM on October 9, 2014 [19 favorites]

But I also believe that every comment deserves a response.

Companies that interact on social media when customers have legitimate questions or concerns are great. Companies that neurotically reply to every comment or tweet are annoying and come across as desperate.
posted by mullacc at 8:55 AM on October 9, 2014 [27 favorites]

I'd also talk to Marketing about having a sample item monthly, to recommend to those who complain about price.

"We believe that what we purvey is so rare and perfect that it is worth the paltry sum we are asking for it. We have a lovely item at a special price today, it's our Damson Plum jam. 2 oz for $5. Try it on your breakfast toast and you'll see how delicious it is."

That way, you're educating a potential customer and offering them a sample so they can judge for themselves.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:57 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

The thing is, no one will ever respond with, "you're too cheap."

If you aren't rejecting a few customers because your price is too high, you're probably charging too little. For whatever it is you make, there are almost definitely people that value your product more than you charge for it. Those people are not going to tell you that they want you to charge them more.

In many (but not all) markets, price discrimination is hard to do, and sometimes illegal. In general (but not always), you more or less set one price for everyone. If you set that number such that 100% of people will buy the product, you will have to account for the people that are only willing to pay an extremely low amount for your product. If you set that number such that, say, 80% of people will buy the product, but will pay twice as much as the 100% of people number, you're going to do better.

Finding the point of optimal pricing is an interesting economic question that I will not address. However, I will note that it is likely that point does not occur when you stop getting "you're too expensive" feedback.
posted by saeculorum at 8:58 AM on October 9, 2014 [12 favorites]

The more time you spend answering objections like this, the less time you have to focus on your desired clients--people who have the money to spend on quality products.

As a massage therapist who used to have my own business (it didn't fail, I just had to move cross-country for family reasons), I became a lot happier and more successful after I learned how to let go of bad clients and court good ones. People who try to haggle on price either just don't have the disposable income to buy your products, or they are pills who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

Unless your job specifically requires you to respond to these folks, I just wouldn't, or I'd use a brief form reply.
posted by mysterious_stranger at 9:24 AM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Assuming they are not using this objection as a negotiating ploy, eople who say things are too expensive are actually just saying they do not perceive the value at the stated cost. In general, people are willing to pay more when they perceive value, otherwise every car in the parking lot would be a Hyundai Excel. (or whatever the cheapest car is currently)

Your job is to communicate the value of your product, not just the price. If they say it is too expensive, your response is "Generally when people say this is too expensive they are indicating that they have a question about why this is not the cheapest option. Let me show you why while we are not the cheapest option we present the greatest value." At that point, you better have a good reason!

If price was the sole determinant of a consummation of a transaction than only the cheapest products would prevail. Yet we know that is not the case. One truism that seems to resonate with folks is "The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten." Probably all of us have memories of when we cut cost on something and then had to live with the fact that we didnt get what we really wanted for a long long time.

kind regards
posted by jcworth at 9:37 AM on October 9, 2014 [3 favorites]

From a marketing/social media point of view, this might indicate that your brand isn't reaching the right market, or that your messaging is inconsistent.

From a sales perspective, you can't make people buy something they can't afford.
posted by Sara C. at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

Sometimes it's only people's perception that something costs too much or that it's a good deal. Look at Walmart -- their business strategy is to mark down some items at cost so the buyer's perception is that everything is cheap. But I once did a test where I looked for 10 items at a nice grocery store and I did the same for Walmart, and the net cost was almost the same. Some items were cheaper at Walmart and some items cost more.

So my point is, if people are saying you're too expensive and you aren't, I would correct them. "We price match our competitors and we sell the same Thingamajig as Other Store for 10 percent less." Or address it in another way. "We work hard to keep our services affordable for our clients. We'd be happy to work with you on tailoring a package that would fit your budget."

If you work in social media and get comments about cost, I'd respond if you are responding to every other type of comment. If people are leaving a comment about how you cost too much on your page, they are interested but want to know they can pay less, I suppose? This is really an overall communications decision - if you have someone who runs your PR or marketing, you could work with this on deciding what to do.

I agree with the person above me that this really isn't a sales issue -- it's a communications issue and question of how you are positioning your company. Some companies might take the attitude, "Yes, we are expensive. But we are premium quality and you get what they pay for." For them, trying to seem affordable would undermine their brand. You need to decide what your brand identity is, be consistent and then target the correct audience. As I already said, work with your marketing/PR/communications team on this.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

What they mean when they say "you are too expensive" is that you didn't prove your value before quoting them a price. The price shouldn't be a surprise. We all know a Mercedes is going to be expensive, right? It's basically too late when they tell you that you are too expensive. You need to look at your sales process and figure out how to set better expectations and position your product or service better, earlier in the process.
posted by COD at 9:55 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

It is possible that what some of them mean is "You are too expensive for my budget." In which case, there might be an opportunity there for offering something they want that they can afford and/or offering financing options. Some very high end brands make a point of also selling relatively small trinkets (in addition to their main thing) at least in part because people who can't afford a dress for a gazillion dollars might still be thrilled to have a belt buckle or scarf with the same quality and same bragging rights of being from Big Brand Name.

If this is public social media where you are getting these comments, then replying to every single one amounts to "putting out the fire with gasoline." If you can reply privately, especially to either educate them about the value of the product or suggest something like "If budget is a concern, perhaps you would be interested in (our list of little trinkets)", then there is value in making sure no one feels you are simply ignoring them. But if it is a) being said in public and b) you can only respond in public, then you need to craft a means of addressing this issue which builds your brand -- and arguing with people about money (or being defensive that you charge what you do) is not the way you want to be seen, no matter the price point.

Also, customers whose main interest is price point are not the ones you want to woo, especially for a high end product. You want to try to avoid offending them or insulting them, because that can come back to bite you in the arse for a variety of reasons, but wooing them is unlikely to have any pay off. So, if you can't find or create an opportunity here to sell them something they can afford that still makes sense for the business, you need to view this as a situation of damage control and try to handle it with a minimum of fuss and resources. You want most of your attention elsewhere.
posted by Michele in California at 10:19 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

When people say "Your work is so expensive," to an artist I know, her reply (delivered with a kind smile) is, "My work is not for everyone."

If you decide not to go that direction, either no reply or a reply along the lines of "Our products are the best," should suffice.
posted by GoLikeHellMachine at 10:23 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

An other approach is to say "we believe our products offer excellent value. For example, do you know that {we double stitch all seams for toughness} or {use only real vanilla with no artificial flavors} You can have a list of these quality features and use a different one every time so you are educating the other readers about exactly why your product is so great as well as responding to the post.
posted by metahawk at 10:30 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

"You're too expensive."
"Very often, when someone says that, they're saying the product is providing something they don't need. What is it about our product do you think you could do without? Help us make a product that meets your needs."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think a lot of people on the Internet are just cheapskates. Almost every time I look up a restaurant on Yelp, there's at least one person calling it "overpriced." Even for a local sandwich shop with completely average sandwich prices. I mentally filter out almost all price discussion on social media and crowdsourced reviews. I don't think there's any way to satisfy all of those people.
posted by primethyme at 11:08 AM on October 9, 2014 [5 favorites]

"So price is the most important factor for you?"
posted by leotrotsky at 4:00 PM on October 9, 2014

Well, if you mostly sell gift-type items it may be that people just don't care as much about quality. I may be the only heartless person, but I usually only get generic gift-type items for someone I don't know that well and in those cases I want something that presents nicely and looks like I tried, but I don't care if it is really the Best Ever or just OK. And people I do really care about usually get non-gift-y items relating to things I know they want .

Basically what Cool Papa Bell said better, your product is providing something I don't need.

On the other hand, if your sales are acceptable please ignore jerks like me and keep making awesome, quality things--even if it doesn't fill a need that I have, that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile.
posted by anaelith at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2014

I was looking at the website for a running app recently (it's the one where you're running away from zombies) and they had a page explaining why they charged, say, $12.99 for their app and not .99 cents. The way they described it was really great because they weren't talking down to the reader and they explained really well why charging what they do is the best thing. It's a more sustainable business model etc.

I would find a link for you, but I'm not good at finding and posting links from my phone.

Maybe have a read of that and find a way to explain your pricing to potential customers.

Eg. Something like: "Thank you so much for showing an interest in us and our products. We have noticed that some potential customers are concerned about our pricing. We strive to provide the best food and excellent customer service, likewise we also strive to provide excellent working conditions and a living wage for our employees. We have structured our pricing to achieve this. By running our business sustainably, we can ensure that we'll still be here to serve you in the years to come. If budget is a concern, please feel free to take a look at our [special offers]."
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:24 PM on October 11, 2014

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