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Buying signals come in varying sizes and weights. The most obvious of them, aside from when a customer reaches for their wallet is when they ask, “How much is it?”

Whether the sale is won or lost in this moment of truth rests on the readiness of your reply. I found myself on the customer end of an almost-buying experience last week that went south after I asked THE question:

“How much to mulch my yard?”

A seven-man crew toiled in a neighbor’s yard last Saturday. “FLOWER BEDS ONLY” read their hand-lettered sign. Aside from cleaning gutters, there’s no chore I like less than tending flower beds. My interest compounded each time I passed that crew while running errands.

Curiosity got the best of me on the seventh pass. I stopped and offered my buying signal, “How much to mulch a yard?” John, the man running the job, gave an all-too-typical answer: “That depends,” he said, before launching into a list of considerations, conditions, and variables. With every word he cultivated uncertainty until my need to leave reached full bloom. Nodding politely, I said, “thanks,” and left. Sale lost.

“How Much” has one answer

Correct answers advance a sale. Wrong ones detour around it. When a customer asks, “how much?” they’re on the go-ahead side of deciding to buy. So, help them go the distance: tell ‘em how much, but don’t stop there!

The right answer is the price—followed seamlessly by reasons that build value in the customer’s mind.

Price is not a punchline

Quite the contrary, it’s the most potent qualifier you have. Put it up front. Scare off the time wasters. Cold? Maybe. But, how much is your time worth?

“Mulch is $14 a foot, plus $25 an hour for installation. We use freshly ground mulch, no dies, no fillers. It’s enhanced with magic juju beans. Your house will win lawn of the month all year. You’ll get that promotion. Your kids will admire you. Now, how many beds do you have?”

Had John said anything even close to that, they’d be working at my house by now. But, he didn’t.

Doubt douses persuasion’s fire

Unanswered How-much’s create loopholes. They plant doubt by telling customers you either don’t know what you’re talking about, or don’t believe in your product. Building value, on the other hand, leverages their desire, stokes the fire, and moves you toward the sale.

5 ways you can win when asked “How Much ?”

  1. Put price up front: “This mulch is $14 a foot….”
  2. Bridge to value: “because our mulch is freshly ground, your plants…”
  3. Invoke testimonials: “the Smiths two houses up hire us every year…”
  4. Take it away—a bit: “there’s cheaper mulch out there—and if that will do for your yard, we may not be a fit for you….”
  5. Get them involved: “How many beds do you have?”

Get to know your How-Much

Success demands drill. Find someone you trust. Practice your how-much. Out loud. Repeat until it rolls off your tongue naturally as your name. Then, get prepared to explain why you’re making so many sales.

My beds, by the way, got the mulch they needed. Our lawn guy answered my “How Much” with a number and built value. He got my business because he knew his number.

What’s yours?

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