Ask telephone answering service salespeople to identify the most important concern buyers have when selecting an answering service, and they will say: “Price.” And they won’t even need to think about it. However, ask the buyers of answering services the same question and you will receive a far different answer. It isn’t price, which in fact ranks as only the fifth most important consideration when selecting an answering service. So reports Clutch, a B2B research and review firm, in their November 2016 Answering Services Survey. Although price ranked at 4.28 on a scale of one to five, four other traits, none of which relate to money, were deemed as more important. Yet why do answering service salespeople assume that price matters so much? Unfortunately the research didn’t investigate why price was only the fifth most important consideration, but it was. However, we can easily speculate on the answer. Buyers Don’t Know What Else to Ask: The most important factor in answering service selection is quality, which is hard to determine. While you can ask an answering service if they provide a quality service, everyone will insist that they do. Though buyers have other priorities and pain points, inquiring about those provide a subjective narrative, at best. So even if they ask about other considerations, they glaze over at the answers. Therefore at a loss of what to ask, buyers default to asking about rates. They understand money. In this way the one question salespeople hear repeatedly is, “What are your rates?” Prices Are Easy to Quantify: How can you measure an answering service’s quality? What would you write down? Nothing objective, that much is sure. Yes, every answering service will assert quality is their number one priority; they will insist it separates them from their competition, but their competition says the same thing. A similar dilemma arises with the second most important factor, responsiveness, which is also challenging to determine. This is not the case with price. Price is in dollars and cents. That makes answering service rates the easiest thing to quantify. Rates Make Comparisons Simple: Analytic buyers often make a chart of the various vendors they are considering. This allows for an easy evaluation of their findings. Yet most of their criteria will list descriptive information, with service rates being one of the few objective entries. This reality pushes price to the top of the list even though it’s not their top criterion. Just because it’s easy for buyers to ask about, record, and compare answering service prices, that doesn’t make rates their most important consideration. Though they may ask for rates first, the answer isn’t all that important. Other things are. Janet Livingston is the president of Call Center Sales Pro, a premier sales and marketing service provider for the call center and telephone answering service industry. Contact Janet at email@example.com or call 800-901-7706. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer from Southwest Michigan and a longtime member of the TAS industry.