Sales Strategy: “Your beef is so expensive!” How do you react? What do you say?

I hear it about every day now, “Is that price right?  Your beef is so expensive!”  It’s a common reaction from customers these days. At first, it would get me flustered, frustrated, and sometimes I’d find myself having an internal panic attack.  I would wonder, “what if my prices are too high?  What if these guys go to another purveyor and I lose the sale?” I would go back to the office, look at the national market prices, look at any invoices from competitors that I could get my hands on, and take a deep breath.

It’s not just me, or you.  It’s EVERYONE who is trying to sell beef in this difficult market right now.  We’re all trying to keep afloat in a time of beef market volatility unlike any before.  The fact is, beef is still in high demand, regardless of the high prices.  So how do you combat this price sensitivity and negative reaction?  How do you keep your foot in the door rather than having it slammed in your face?


This goes for all sales, but it especially rings true to our circumstance here.  Differentiation is nothing new, but it’s the most important point to focus on right now in these difficult times selling beef.  One thing I can assure you is that everyone is dealing with the same problems with price.  The cost of beef across the board is going up for everyone.  Given that, what will you do to set yourself apart and get the sale?

One thing I’ve been focusing on is becoming more of a consultant and less of a salesman to my customers.  Yes, they want to buy beef, but how can I help them become better at their business?  If I can show them that I’m VALUABLE to their business, I’ll get this sale and many more to come.  But, how do I add that value?  How do I become a consultant, rather than a salesman?

Know your cuts

I study my beef cuts so that I know the way they act.  I understand how each cut will perform when cooked in all different environments - wet, dry, fried, grilled, sliced thin, cut thick, roasted whole, etc.  The more I know each cut, the better I can recommend alternatives for each menu item that will increase my customer’s profitability overall. 

If my customer wants to make a Philly Steak Sandwich, I have three or four cuts that they could use for this application.  So, when they look at me like I’m trying to rob them after showing them the price of Top Sirloin, I have a few alternatives that are lower priced that will still make a great sandwich.  While you’re learning your cuts, reach out to the experts you’re connected to in your networks if you have questions. 

Akaushi Chuckeye Steak, AKA Delmonico Steak  Could your customer use this as a replacement for the higher priced Ribeye?

Akaushi Chuckeye Steak, AKA Delmonico Steak

Could your customer use this as a replacement for the higher priced Ribeye?

Know the markets

Now that I know my cuts and what alternatives are out there for each I take the next step: watch the market and anticipate my customer’s needs.  We all know that the market changes daily, weekly, and seasonally regarding pricing of different primals and subprimals. 

If I can watch the market trends and go into my sales meeting knowing my customer is going to be outraged at the price of Beef Tenderloin, what do I have in my back pocket to suggest before she slams the door in my face?  I have a couple of items to suggest that will take the place of her 8oz Filet Mignon on Valentines Day that will make her customer happy, but put more money in her pocket.  If I can show her these options I’ve just added value to my role in her business.  

This approach takes some organization and some homework.  Carve out a little time in the evening to study your beef cuts.  While you’re on your sales calls and deliveries ask the butchers and the chefs you work with to learn more about how cuts act and feel and taste under certain conditions.  Use your networks. What are your customers looking for and how are they menuing these items? This information will become the most valuable weapon you have in your sales arsenal. 

Build trust

If you can talk Consultant to Client, rather than Salesperson to Customer and become a trusted member of their team, you will be able to secure future sales as we all navigate through this rocky landscape of high beef prices.