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Putting Your Money Where Your Mouth Is -- How & When to Talk about This Sticky Subject

Talking money! Now there's a scary thought! Most of us would rather walk into a haunted house than do the money talk with prospective clients, or even with the second cousin who owes us for a loan.

But talk about it we must. No matter how uncomfortable we feel about talking dollars, overcoming that feeling will only make biz (and life) easier in the long run. We'll be more confident, clear, and candid, which in turn, will save time and prevent disappointment and sticker shock down the road.

So how do we overcome the money talk jitters? We went right to the horse's mouth on the subject. Who better to talk to about money-schmoozing strategies than a car dealer? Yep, these guys have been there, done that, and are happy to share their secrets with us Idea Cafe regulars.

Money Talk Secrets from the Guys in the Know!

Be a Good Listener. Even though this may require some time on your part, you can't sell a product or service to someone when you don't even know anything about their needs. Ask questions to get to know a person better. Once you've got a feeling for a person's situation, money talk will emerge more easily.

Educate Your Clients. Before talking price, find out if clients know anything about you or your product or service. Giving clients information on your biz will create a sense of trust and allow you to better understand if you can be of service. Once clients get a feel for your value, they'll be more willing to place a dollar amount on it.

Walk the Balance Beam. On one hand, you want to inform your clients, but on the other hand, you don't want to overwhelm them with too much info and lose their interest before you can even discuss money. Balance your words between introducing your biz, asking a few questions, and listening. Discuss money after you've made a connection.

Don't Judge a Book by Its Cover. Just because a person doesn't look or sound like your kind of customer, don't dismiss their interest in your product or service. Some people have the money burning in their pockets and are ready to buy while others have money considerations that need more attention.

Don't Start off Talking Money. While mentioning your fees right off the bat might scare off the lookieloos, you might also scare off bona fide clients who will only see the dollar signs and not the product or service you can offer them.

Be Casual and Confident. Once you get an idea of a client's needs, discuss money issues casually. Perhaps you could say, "After learning about my service, I'm sure you're wondering what my fees are?" Or, reply confidently to any inquiry about your fees. Don't feel awkward mentioning your fees; most people expect you to be in biz to make some sort of profit.

Explain Fees Clearly. Regardless of your biz, be prepared to succinctly explain how your fees or prices work -- have a quick speech or fee schedule ready, or include it in your brochure. Clients will appreciate quick and clear explanations.

Tip: When you're done talking money, get the details in writing so you and your clients don't start remembering different versions of the deal.

Even if you "waste" your time listening to a client who doesn't bite after the money talk, you did your job as a biz owner. You were there to consult and assist and provide a service. Who knows? They may remember you later when money isn't so much of an issue -- and come knocking at your door!

Special thanks to the sales staff at Lithia Dodge of Southwest Oregon and Sydney Berman of PaineWebber in Medford, Oregon for contributing to this article.

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