Early price discussions are a constant source of stress and second-guessing for sales reps. What if you show your cards too soon and lose customer interest? What if you hold back too much and upset your customer by creating doubt?
First, if they ask you a direct question, answer it. It's important to say "yes" when asked if you can give the customer a price. This shows that you are listening to the customer and have the ability to answer the question without being evasive or misleading. "Unwind" your answer into a presentation that gives you the opportunity to first ask questions to better understand the customer’s needs and describe the value your product can provide. The key to “unwinding” the discussion is to let the customer know what is in it for them to go through some additional details; i.e. “yes, I would be happy to share the costs involved with the program. So I can provide you with the information that is most applicable, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
If you are hard pressed to give a number following this approach, allow yourself some breathing room by giving a range if at all possible, e.g., "Absolutely, our price can range anywhere from $500 all the way up to $5,000 based upon the options and customization of the product to the customer's specific work environment." This at least provides some insight in response to the customer’s request, but also allows the rep an opportunity to continue to build value and to probe to learn more about the needs of the customer.
In the worst case, when pressed, give the prospect the price, but continue asking for further details as to their needs. Remember to do this with tact and skill. Don't be defensive or give up on the conversation. Don't turn off the prospect by holding the price ransom: "I really am not able to give you a price until you answer a few questions." The customer will undoubtedly keep looking for a company's whose sales rep is able to give them the information they need. Keep the prospect engaged and show them the value of your product and "what's in it for them to answer some questions."