If you’ve ever been on a prospecting call only to hear the four words most business owners dread: “I can’t afford it.” you may have felt instantly deflated left wondering what you did wrong or should have done differently. You might be questioning your prices, your offer, and your pitch, and even spun down the rabbit hole wondering if you could keep your business afloat and growing.
We all wish perfect prospects instantly turned into a sale, but more often than not, we’re met with “I need to think about it,” or worse, “I can’t afford it.”
I reached out to Jenny Shih, a business coach and strategist, for her thoughts on how to navigate this conundrum. I appreciated her thoughts on what “I can’t afford it” really means and what we can do.
5 Things to Do When a Client Says They Can’t Afford You | Stephanie Burns
The good news is, when you understand what “I can’t afford it” really means, you gain a whole new perspective on selling and can be better prepared next time you get this all-to-common objection.
Shih says,“’I can’t afford it’ usually has nothing to do with money. Your prospect is dishing you (often unintentionally) a little white lie. Saying these words is an easy way for them to end the conversation and avoid a potentially uncomfortable situation.”
You’ve probably done the same thing before. You hopped on a call with a service provider, and when it came time for the pitch, you opted out. You made an excuse, probably having to do with money because most people won’t question you.
It’s human nature to take the easy way out in this situation. It’s easier to fib than to voice one of the three real objections:
* I don’t believe in your product.
* I don’t believe in you.
* I don’t believe in me.
Just imagine someone saying, “I don’t believe in you” when you present your offer!
Now that you’re a little clearer on why your prospect said they can’t afford it, here’s five things you can do next time a client says “I can’t afford it.”
Acknowledge What They Said With Empathy
As soon as you hear those four words, the first thing you should do is respond with empathy. This is great news because most people I know don’t like to go for a hard sell.
When you respond with empathy, you build build trust and take the pressure off the prospect. They’re so grateful that you didn’t push harder that they’ll start to listen more closely to what you have to say.
Memorize these words and use them whenever someone shares an objection: “Thank you for sharing. I understand how it feels to see a product or service you’d love to invest it but feel you can’t afford it.”
Ask A Lot Of Questions
Next, your job is to get curious. You know that “I can’t afford it” likely isn’t the real reason your prospect didn’t say yes on the spot. But what *is* the real reason? It’s your job to figure out what the real objection is!
Try asking questions like these to get to the real issue:
* If money were no object, would you invest in this program?
* What would need to be included for you to invest in this service?
* Do you feel confident that this offer would help you reach your goals?
Let Them Off The Hook
Most of Jenny’s clients prefer to avoid aggressive sales tactics at all costs. And, luckily, letting your prospect off the hook is an effective strategy that still feels good! Rather than pushing for a sale, respond with empathy (remember: “Thank you for sharing. I understand…”) and then… don’t do anything else.
Offer to answer other questions before you end the call, which is another great way to build trust, but don’t feel like you need to go in for a hard sell.
It’s perfectly acceptable to just thank them for their time and move on.
Identify The Gap
If you’re hearing the same objection over and over again, ask yourself how you can fix that. Do you need to change your consult, your copy, or your offer?
This is another opportunity to put on your scientist hat and dig in.
A warning though: hearing “I can’t afford it” isn’t necessarily a sign that you need to lower your prices. It could simply be that you aren’t reaching the right audience. Don’t jump to conclusions – look for hard evidence.
You’ve seen the stats: 92% of sales pros give up after the 4th call, but 80% of prospects say no four times before they say yes. (MarketingDonut) Follow up is crucial.
If you walk away after a discovery call that didn’t convert, you’re leaving money on the table. Instead, use the information you gathered during your call to craft a personal follow-up. Put empathy at the forefront and show a genuine interest in helping your prospect make the best decision for them.
Shih says, “No matter how much you practice your consult and even if you’re a rockstar salesperson, you can’t stop clients from saying ‘I can’t afford you.’ But you can be better prepared when that objection comes up.”
If you follow the steps outlined here, you’ll be armed with a solid strategy to handle the objection, build trust with your clients, and maybe even make a sale in the future.