Ask Steve

Ask Steve: How Can I Handle the “How Much” Question Over the Phone?

Office ManagerHi Steve,

We've been in business almost 2 years now. We've steadily raised our prices as our experience level has grown and almost all my clients are delighted.

When customers call us they usually ask, "How much do you charge?" So how can I, in a minute or less on the phone, successfully overcome this question? How can I quickly explain why I charge as much as I do and why my (slightly) higher prices are well worth it?

After people see the job I do and how hard I work they usually comment that I don't charge enough for my work! My challenge is conveying the dedication and love I have for my craft before I arrive and over the phone!

It is disheartening to me to lose so many people with the old “Let me check with my husband and I’ll call you back” response and of course they never do! So Steve, do you have any suggestions on how to combat the “How much do you charge?” question?

-Puzzled in Phoenix


I feel your pain, Puzzled! It is so darn frustrating to know that you truly are the best in town, to truly wish to be of service and to know that you give excellent value for the money and then to get blown off course with the good old "How much?" over-the-phone question!

What makes it even worse is when you recognize that many of the "how much" folks could care less how much you charge! Within reason, of course. It is just they really don't know what else to ask about and they are desperately trying to feel in control during this transaction!

Here is how you can win over the phone: Simply "distract” your caller by first getting permission to ask them a few questions. Then, use the answers they give you to prove that you need to come out and do an on-site inspection and/or clean their carpets.

The nice thing here is this “distraction tactic” works well whether you give-a-price-over-the-phone or you do a pre-inspection trip first. Let’s run through a sample phone conversation using this strategy:

You (cheerfully): “Good morning, thank you for calling Phoenix Carpet Cleaning. This is Charlie Smith. How may I help you?”

Prospect: “Yeah… uhhh, how much do you charge to clean carpets?”

(NOTE: Now Puzzled, my guess is this is where your conversation has run off the tracks before. Am I right? But now let me share how you keep control of this exchange…)

You: “I can help you with that. May I ask you a few questions?”

Prospect: “Uh, sure. Go ahead.”

Here’s the deal, Puzzled. With these two short sentences - “I can help you with that. May I ask you a few questions?” - you accomplish two very important goals.

1. “I can help you with that.” Here you take ownership of your caller’s question which is a very positive moment of truth. You also are setting them up for your knockout punch.

2. “May I ask you a few questions?” The unspoken message with this question is “If you want me to help you I’ll logically need to ask you a few questions.” (It is a very unreasonable caller who will not see this point.) So when they reply “yes” they are giving you permission to proceed!

So now you just interview the caller to get a better picture of the job. But more importantly, you are forcing your prospect to invest time in this phone conversation. And the more time they spend with you, the more likely it is that they will want to get a return on their time investment by scheduling the job with you!

NOTE: Download my free Phone Format (including the “Interview Questions” I used) here. Or just write me at and put the words “Phone Format” in the subject line.

Honestly, Puzzled, by the time I was done with my prospect, many times they booked the job without me ever giving the price they had asked for in the beginning! Seriously! So try this strategy next time you get hit with the good old “How much?” question!

NOTE: Steve and ICS want to consult for you! For a personal reply write Steve HERE with your questions, problems, struggles and challenges! Your help is on the way! A new “Ask Steve” will appear in the ICS eNewsletter every Thursday. To register to receive it, click here

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