How to Respond When a Prospect Says, "I Don't Have the Money"

Jeff Osness


12 min

Inside this article:

1. Prevent the objection before it happens

2. Confirm that the need exists

3. Ask tough questions that highlight the "cost of not"

4. Add up the advantages

5. Have a payment plan option

6. Make it risk-free

Wrapping up how to respond when a prospect says, “I don’t have the money”

You've gone through your sales pitch, had a discussion about your product or service, answered some questions, and then you hear it.

"I don't have have the money."

This common objection might sound a little different, when you hear it:

  • I don't have the money, right now.
  • We don't have the budget for that.
  • That's too expensive.
  • Oh no, I can't afford that.

So, how do you handle price objections like these? Here are 6 smart strategies to add to your arsenal.

Let's dive in...

1. Prevent the objection before it happens

The best way to handle this is to not let it come up in the first place. 

Yes, I know this isn't technically "a response." But you'll have much more success fixing the underlying issues that caused the objection, than you'll have by ace-ing the response.

Hearing "I don't have the money," is a sign that your pitch missed the mark in one of two key ways. Or both:

  • You didn't properly qualify your prospect
  • You didn't adequately establish value

Let's start with the first piece.

A good sales pitch starts off with an opening statement that highlights a pressing need or pain point that you have a solution for. After all, your conversation won't go anywhere unless your prospect has that need and actively wants to solve it.

So, for example, let's say I contact a PhoneBurner lead in the insurance industry. I might say:

"Hi this is Jeff from PhoneBurner. I'm calling today because we've been having great success helping insurance agents call more insurance leads and sell more policies, while spending about a third of the time on the phones. Can I ask a few short questions to see if our software might be a fit for you?"

That opening statement is specific to their industry, and hits a major pain point of insurance sales by phone - it takes a lot of time (sometimes for not enough payoff).

It also paves the way to ask about their current phone sales process, what challenges they're facing, and how improved productivity and performance would impact their business.

The goal of your qualifying questions is to cement that the need exists, and  understand whether your solution is a potential fit. It also helps you transition into the second goal of your pitch: Establishing value.

Credibly illustrate the value of the benefits your product delivers and the costs of being without i,t and you're well on your way to making a sale.

Fail to do so, and it's easy for your prospect to say they don't have the money. Or that it's too expensive.

When that happens, here's how you can respond:

2. Confirm that the need exists

Just as we recommended in our post about how to respond when the customer says "I'll think about it" when facing a price objection, start by getting them to confirm that they desire the benefit that your product provides. It's psychologically more difficult to decline, when you verbalize that the interest exists.

Try saying something like, “I totally understand your price concerns. Just to confirm, if money weren't an issue is [solving primary pain point/getting primary benefit] something you’re interested in if you could find the right solution?

If they confirm, you have another opportunity to get at what they're looking for in a solution (and perhaps you offer it), to prove that value you offer is greater than the cost, or to change your offer to work within their budget.

3. Ask tough questions that highlight the "cost of not"

Sometimes prospects need a little nudge to get to a buying decision.

Sam Ovens, a sales thought leader, recommends providing that nudge by respectfully reminding them of their expressed interest, and being direct with tough questions.

For example, let's say you’re selling a product in the parenting niche. When they say, “I can’t afford it,” you can reply, “Okay, so you told me during our call that you are concerned about your child's lack of X and Y. How long can your family afford to let that go on?”

This reminds the prospect of the cost of not fixing their issue, and can prompt a response that re-opens the door to a solution. It also creates a sense of urgency, which incites action.

4. Add up the advantages

If your customer is focusing on and totaling up costs, show them that they're looking at the wrong side of the equation.

People spend more on energy efficient appliances, when they see the energy savings. People invest in solar panels, when they find out their break even point isn't so far off. Businesses buy software when they understand the time savings, and the monetary value of that time. People buy maintenance plans because preventative care costs less than repairs.

Is there a dollar value you can place on the problem(s) you're solving? If so, leverage this figure to your advantage. Highlight long term and short-term benefits.  Show them the math.

school of rock math GIF

5. Have a payment plan option

If it really is purely a financial issue, consider offering a payment plan to make it easier for the prospect. For some, seeing a price expressed as smaller monthly payments may be all you need to make an investment manageable.

6. Make it risk-free

If price objections stem from a failure to show adequate value, then it stands to reason that free trials or guarantees can help make up for any shortfalls.

That's because risk-free propositions let your product do the talking.

The next time someone tells you they don't have the money, have a powerful response ready that a) shares the key benefit you deliver (our customers save 18% on their IT costs) and b) offers a risk-free way for them to experience that benefit for themselves.

It's a powerful one-two punch that can help you convert even the most price sensitive customers.

Wrapping up how to respond when a prospect says, “I don’t have the money”

Hearing that a prospect doesn't have the money, or a budget, for your product can be upsetting. But t also suggests that the interest is there and that there might be a path to deal. It all depends on what you say next. And of course, how you structure your pitch differently going forward.

Here's a recap of the best ways to handle this dilemma:

  1. Prevent the  objection before it happens with better qualification and illustration of value
  2. Confirm that the need exists
  3. Ask tough questions that highlight "the cost of not"
  4. Show them the advantageous math
  5. Suggest a payment plan
  6. Use free trials or guarantees to remove risk

What are some other ways you handle price and budget objections?

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