How the Cost Question Reveals a Leadership Mindset of Scarcity

How many times have you heard this question within the first few minutes of talking to a new sales lead?


“How much will this cost?”

What this question has revealed beyond your own internal negative reactions is a leadership mindset of scarcity.

Decision makers who are forward thinking leaders do not bring cost up within the first few moments. No, these individuals recognize to solve their problems, to have sustainable growth requires an investment of time, energy, money and emotions.

“How much will it cost?” reflects short term. scarcity thinking. Sure these decision makers may be having success. However that business success will not be sustainable with a mindset of scarcity.

When I hear this question I realize the person is probably not forward thinking.  This becomes especially difficult when the individual is a referred sales lead.

My most recent corporate executive coaching client first asked about my coaching process. Then we scheduled a phone call to better understand the client’s objectives and to learn if my executive coaching approach would work.  Finally at the end of the phone call, he requested I share the “investment” for this solution as he was just one of the two decision makers.

The mindset of scarcity is quite prevalent within many SMBs.  During a mastermind session with some other SMB owners, one of the members revealed the scarcity mindset of one of his clients. The client promoted a “super” worker to “super” visor without any investment in this individual.  As is usually the case, the newly promoted worker failed because he lacked the necessary people skills in his new role.  Then the SMB owner demoted him back to “super” worker.  There was no effort to develop this person because the SMB’s mindset of scarcity could not even recognize the real problem.

Research shows this scarcity mindset of “How much will it cost?” is probably part of the reason many millennials are leaving their jobs by the end of the year.  The lack of leadership development is probably because of cost.

When I receive this question of “How much will it cost?” early in any sales conversation, my response is “It all depends.”  I then continue with “At this time I do not have enough facts to answer that questions.  What I do know from what little that has been shared, is there appears to be some barriers to your business growth.  If this is true, then would it not make sense for us to talk further to determine the full impact of those barriers on the future of your business?”  This response usually returns to the conversation scheduling another appointment.

Understanding the financial impact of any buying decision is essential.  However, when “how much will it cost” comes almost right out of the sales conversation gate, this question reveals far more than someone being concerned about the financial impact.

* * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is THE People and Process Problem Solver. She supports forward thinking leadership in bridging the gaps between the two problems restricting strategic business growth – people and processes. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time USA.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.


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