I was sitting at a lunch table with a group of roofing contractors at a trade show where I had been the keynote speaker when one asked me, “Hey! How the heck can I deal with the low-ballers selling too cheaply in my market?” Another chimed in to say it was her biggest problem, too. Suddenly, they all eagerly agreed that the low-ballers were the biggest threats in their markets.

I said, “Well, one of you must be the low-baller. Which one of you son-of-a-guns is it?” Not surprisingly, they all felt they were very credible salespeople. We all had a good laugh, and they saw my point. Very few salespeople or contractors think they are the ones pricing too low. The obvious conclusion is that the seller’s fear of the price objection might be greater than the reality of it.

The real problem is that salespeople falsely believe the price objection is something to deal with at the moment of the final negotiation. I say that the price objection is like the dirty water at the mouth of the river. You can’t clean up the river by ignoring the pollution upstream; in the same way, the price objection is a symptom of things gone wrong earlier in the sales process.

Here are some preventative measures that will help you defeat the threat of the price objection:

Stop assuming homeowners are all about price. As an owner of an old Victorian home built circa 1898, I promise you I’ve dealt with many remodelers, including a roofing contractor, and have learned that many of them don’t even show up for scheduled sales calls. Believe that homeowners are thrilled just to get your attention and will pay your price if you show up and present yourself credibly. Believe that some people, like me, actually think that a higher price corresponds to higher quality. Change your beliefs, and find the people who are comfortable paying your price.

Sell by word of mouth. Whether you’re selling commercial roofing or consumer re-roofs, recognize that the most successful roofing contractors gain their business by referrals. What you say about you isn’t nearly as powerful as what other people say. Let your satisfied customers do your selling for you. If you aren’t networking and providing a referral-incentive program, start one today. Referral leads buy at your price.

Create a backlog of work. It amazes me how many contractors hear “no” when the answer is actually “not now.” I’ve worked with dozens of contractors to help them discover that lost sales were never really lost. Many of the quotes you submit to prospects get delayed by life’s interruptions. Follow up on past proposals and, more importantly, discuss the timing of projects with clients early in the buying process. You’ll discover that many are shopping today for projects that won’t start for weeks or months. The best way to gain negotiation power is by having a backlog of profitable business that enables you to walk away from unprofitable situations.

Ultimately, the only one way to beat the threat of the price negotiation is to hold your price. As a provider of free daily sales tips to subscribers, I remind them of my number-one tip: you will never know the satisfaction of holding your price and winning a sale until you’ve held your price and lost one. It’s a fact that some buyers will simply not pay your asking price. On the other hand, you’ll never know which ones will pay that asking price until you hold firm. Beat the threat of a price objection by facing it fearlessly; hold your price. You will be pleasantly surprised by the result.