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Either Or Proposals to Increase Pricing

Published: Sep 20 , 2018
Author: Ben Byth

We are always thrilled to hear when clients tell us about how they have used specific things they learned from us. One of my clients called last week to say she was getting some success around raising prices.  

One of the big challenges with raising pricing is that nobody involved likes it. The customer resists, the salesperson is reluctant, and, possibly, everyone resents it.  

So, after explaining why a price rise was necessary given her marketplace, she gave the client a choice – an ‘Either / Or proposal’: 

“We can either have a modest price increase OR if you would prefer to increase your volumes I can keep the price as is.” 

Of course, the customer would probably prefer neither, but rather than having a price increase imposed on them, the customer could choose.  

People like choice. Giving the customer choice helped to reduce the emotion by giving the customer control over the situation. Importantly, it is also much harder to resent your supplier for a decision you made!  

After making these proposals it was then incumbent on the salesperson to drive her proposal forward. The customer was unlikely to get on the front foot and take the price rise. She asked: 

‘Which would you prefer?’ 

Interestingly, the half-dozen customers this salesperson spoke to all chose the modest price rise. However, she would have been equally happy if any had alternatively brought additional volume to the table (it is critical you put forward two options you are happy with).  

Key takeaways for raising pricing (or getting a similarly difficult position over the line): 

  • Explain why the situation must change. Information disclosure is going to help build credibility behind your request and build trust. 
  • If possible, give your customers choice in the form of an ‘Either/Or Proposal’. Sometimes this is hard… so if you get stuck you might consider ‘time’.  
    • “Either, pricing goes up 4% in January, OR if you allow us to invoice you for 2019 in December 2018 the price can remain the same” 
    • “Either, pricing goes up 4% in January, OR if you can agree to cheque-on-delivery payment terms (rather than the current 60-day) the price can remain” 
  • Drive your proposal forward by seeking a response – “which would you prefer?” 

It didn’t feature in these negotiations, but you could also consider using deferred authority and blaming someone else. Our CFO has told me that I need to achieve XYZ. This allows you to position yourself as the solution rather than the problem. 

Happy negotiating.  


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Ben Byth
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