Sticker shock is a funny thing, isn’t it?

There you are, engaged with your prospect. Some great meetings. Discovery calls. Deep dives. You get shortlisted. They ask for a proposal. You send it over and then … something changes?

Suddenly they go cold or go quiet. The mood shifts. The momentum disappears.

Nobody likes unpleasant surprises, especially not when they open a proposal and an unexpectedly large number smacks them between the eyes.

Sticker shock means that:

  • You’ve failed to understand their budget expectations
  • You’ve over-estimated the return on investment or value of your solution
  • You’ve put your prospect in an awkward and uncomfortable position
  • At best it means you have a long road of back-and-forth negotiations ahead, to get the sale
  • At worst you’ve sunk your deal completely.

How to avoid sticker shock?

  1. Qualify hard on budget early
  2. Discuss ballpark figures before submitting a proposal & stay within that range
  3. Validate with your exec sponsor before sending your proposal
  4. Spend more time on discovery and business case before your proposal
  5. Build in multiple options, not just 1 number.

Sales is hard at the best of times, but avoiding ‘Sticker Shock’ is one of the simplest ways to be successful.

Cian McLoughlin is the Amazon #1 bestselling author of Rebirth of the Salesman, a regular keynote speaker at sales kick-off’s around the world and one of the Top 50 Sales bloggers in the world for the past 2 years. He is a passionate proponent of an ethical, honest and authentic approach to sales. His company, Trinity Perspectives, is committed to helping sales organizations unlock the latent potential of their customers’ insights with their Win Loss Analysis and Sales Transformation services. To read more of Cian’s sales articles visit

Sign up to receive exclusive articles, videos and sales tips, plus invitations to
some cool events for sales professionals. What are you waiting for?

Share This