Does talking about money make you anxious or uncomfortable? If so, you are in good company. Whether in personal or professional settings, discussing money can make even the most confident of us distressed.
What is it about money that causes such discomfort? Many financial taboos are rooted in history and culture. In the early 1900’s etiquette standards called out talk of money as uncouth and, for many years, women were excluded from business discussions. Depending on where and how you were raised, you might view frugality as a virtue, exchanging gifts of cash as tactless, or philanthropic giving as a mandate. Social conditioning drives a lot of our thinking about money. Conversely, money has a large impact on how our society functions.
Done well, the sales process is about creating a relationship. The inexperienced salesperson fears that talking about money will disrupt this connection to a potential customer. But the most successful salespeople understand that their prospect-to-customer close ratio is improved when they become comfortable addressing the topic of money — budget, cost, payment — early and often. In doing so, they end up creating fewer proposals to the right prospects, avoiding unnecessary time and work on both sides.
We can lessen the anxiety over conversations about money by not just modifying our approach, but changing the underlying mindset. To start, ask yourself “What, exactly, is money?”
- Money is an inanimate object. Without human influence, money has no real significance.
- The absence of money can be difficult, but an abundance of it offers choices and open doors.
- Money, in and of itself, cannot cause harm. Contrary to the often-misquoted Bible verse, money is not the root of all evil. (The real verse from 1 Timothy 6:10 says “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.”)
- Much good can be done with money. A group of wealthy families that make up The Giving Pledge — including Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan — are committed to giving the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes that help others.
The challenge of talking about money is a hurdle that exists in our own heads. The sales process, in itself, makes the assumption that you — the salesperson — is offering a product or service needed or wanted by the customer, who is willing to pay for it. You can put the concept of “talking about money early and often” into practice by:
- Asking, in your first conversation with a prospect: “Do you want to know the price?”
- Offering up a price range (e.g. $50K – $70K) prior to the creation of a statement of work. Be sure to aim high in case the project turns out to be more complex than originally thought.
- Continuing to address the price question with decision makers when navigating the potential customer’s hierarchy.
Practicing even one of these will save you time, grow your confidence in the topic, and most importantly improve your outcomes!