When a Prospect Says “I Can’t Afford It.”
A few years ago, I enrolled in a 3-day live workshop with a mentor I had been following online for several years. Every year, when she announced this annual workshop, I said that I couldn’t afford it and I cried because I wanted so much to go! And every year the cost went up. By the time I finally went, the fee had tripled! On the last day of the workshop, my mentor persuasively pitched her very expensive mastermind program. Swept up in the enthusiasm of the moment, I signed up for this year-long training program.
A couple hours later, when we returned to the workshop from our lunch break, I actually had a full-blown panic attack! I didn’t have the money for this costly training and didn’t know how I would get it. But I had signed a binding contract. A colleague saw that I was upset, coached me through my distress and I went on to successfully complete the year-long program.
(How did I come up with the money? That’s another story for another day!)
I sometimes have prospective clients go through a similar process. They come to me seeking help for their problem and get excited about the solutions I offer. Then when the time comes to pay, suddenly they get cold feet and say they can’t afford it.
I used to find this so perplexing and frustrating! Later on, after studying marketing, I learned the reasons behind this type of resistance, and what to do about it. If you sometimes have this experience with potential clients, help is on the way!
When you’re on the verge of enrolling a prospect and then encounter resistance, this does not mean “end of story” with this person. There’s a lot you can do to get them back on board. What should you do when a prospective client starts to get cold feet?
First of all, show understanding of their viewpoint. Suppose they say, “This sounds great, but I just can’t afford it.” Don’t negate their concern: “Of course you can, it’s not that expensive.” This is likely to alienate them.
Stay in agreement with them. “Yes, I understand your concern about the cost. Paying up front for a package of 10 sessions is a big investment! May I offer you another perspective on that? What is it worth to you to not… [have headaches, miss work, be in pain]?” This will remind them that it’s an investment, not an expense. Make it about the value, not about the money.
What might stop them from getting the help they need? If it’s money, you can offer payment options. If it’s time, you can flex your schedule to their needs. Is it fear of something new? Familiarize them with what to expect from you. Do they worry about getting their money’s worth? Have a money-back guarantee. Whatever their resistance is, be understanding, supportive and ready with solutions, so that their real and imagined obstacles can be overcome.
You need a Plan B when a prospect tries to back out. Here are more suggestions to help you handle this situation.
Ask if they are willing to move forward with a treatment program if their obstacle did not exist. “If you felt you could afford it, would you want to start taking care of your problem?”
When people have resistance, it often means they have not fully grasped the value of what you offer. They are actually asking for more clarification, asking to be convinced. They also want to know that they will not be wasting their money and time on something that doesn’t help them, so you need to emphasize value, benefits and results. They have the option to decline, but they’re still sitting there talking with you. So this is not the time to give up and let them walk away. Always keep in mind that no one forced them here – they came to you for help.
If someone expresses doubt or asks for assurance that your services will actually work for them, here’s a script for a conversation to help them clarify their thinking: “Based on all of the clients I have helped and what I know is possible, I can’t see why you would be the only person that my tried and true methods wouldn’t help. Is there a reason you think you would be the one exception?”
Point out the physical, mental, emotional and/or spiritual cost of staying stuck and not moving forward. You could still put a monetary amount on their situation. But even more important – paint the picture of what another year would look like if they’re sick, in pain, exhausted, depressed, in a bad marriage, having an out-of-control child or whatever the issue may be for your niche.
How should you respond if someone asks for “more time” to decide? Let them know: “I can’t make an exception to my “Decisive Action” offer because it wouldn’t be consistent or fair to my other clients, and keeping my word is very important to me. There’s really nothing more you will know about this program next week that you don’t already know right now…” (and go into script above: “Based on people I’ve helped…” ).
Alternately (or in addition), you can share: “The decision is in your hands. If you truly need more time to decide, that’s ﬁne. The program is well worth the regular investment. But remember – you will miss the savings if you wait.”
It’s a positive step if someone voices an objection. If she says it is too expensive, it means she is interested, and she is asking you to help make it work for her. If she wasn’t interested, she wouldn’t have come to you in the first place. You can ask “On a scale of 1-10, how important is it to resolve this issue, that you get from [where you are now – be speciﬁc] to [where you want to go – be speciﬁc]?” Their answers will almost always be in the 7-10 range, indicating strong need for your solutions. Again, you can remind them of the value they will get for their investment.
Remember… they came to you because they wanted help. You offer something that the person will benefit from, something that they need, something they asked for. You are selling from the perspective of their needs. Help them see why this is a good decision for them. Show them the value and they will show you the money!