Stop "Selling Price" Alone!

As many pavement maintenance specialists can attest, selling hard bid often leaves a contractor tempted to believe that the lowest price alone gets the work. Yet some of the more successful contractors whom I’ve worked with, for, and have observed are moving well beyond this limiting approach to capturing more and better work.

If you are trapped into “selling price alone,” your paradigm, that is, your view of your “selling world,” is stifled, not allowing you to sell the many attributes and strengths of your company. While I’ll expand on this approach at the 2016 National Pavement Expo in Charlotte, let me share a two tips now.

1. Never give in when a customer says, “Your competitor’s price is lower than yours’.”

NEVER take the “bait” on this oldie but goodie. Simply look your customer in the eye and calmly respond, “If my competitor is ‘cheaper,’ and they usually are, what are they again not including in their bid that I’ve addressed correctly in my proposal?” The psychology behind this is pretty astounding. Consider:

A. By not responding too quickly or negatively, you look like you’ve been to this dance before.

B. Always use the word “cheaper” when describing your competitors’ bids.

C. “They usually are…” refers to your experience of dealing with this 2nd rate competitor without saying your competitor is 2nd rate.

D. “No including in their bid” refers to you putting doubt into your customer’s mind that perhaps the competitor is keeping something out of their bid and will come up after a job has begun, surprising the customer with additional costs.  

E. Finally, always use the word “proposal” when talking about your own estimate/bid as it comes across more professional.

2. Overcome the customer who says, “We’re sticking with ABC Paving, they’ve always done our work.”

This can always be a toughie but remember; the harder they are the harder they fall. You need to do much more than sell price alone to have any chance to win this customer over to you. Consider a few tips in response, such as:

  • “I appreciate your honesty but I have found many customers interested in staying aware of the best process, techniques, materials, etc., are you sure you are getting such advice from your contractor?”
  • “Thank you for letting me know that. I would still like to propose to you as many things are changing in our industry, something I have found my competitors not keeping up with, thus not providing their customers with the best work for the dollar.”
  • “That’s interesting you are still working with my competitor as we’re getting more request from other customers to rebid some of their work.”
  • “Well, my competitor has a long history of work in the area but we’re growing, very competitive for our customers’ on pricing, and proving to be the preferred contractor for our quality and service. Love to provide you an alternative source for your properties.”

Hey, even for the customer who has worked with XYZ Contractor forever, use this customer as your “guinea pig” of trial sales strategies. If the customer has multiple properties you may cause them to reconsider not putting all of their properties with only one contractor.

These are but a few of the many strategies that will be shared during my Jan. 30 presentation, “How to Stop ‘Selling Price’… and What You Should Sell Instead,” at the upcoming 2016 NPE. If you haven’t yet signed up for my class, please consider it. If you haven’t even considered coming to Charlotte conference, make plans now to come. There will be many great educational sessions presented by some very wise and smart folks. Come be a part of this opportunity to take your business to greater profitable ground.

Brad Humphrey is President of Pinnacle Development Group, a consulting firm that specializes in the construction industry. Brad will be presenting five sessions at the 2016 National Pavement Exposition, Jan. 27-30 in Charlotte, NC. He also present a “Leadership Boot Camp” in Charlotte on Tuesday, January 26. For details visit