Sales Practices: Question and Answer #3
This is a Question and Answer article from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator. Follow Dave’s latest Tweets at @davekahle.
By Dave Kahle
Q. How do you make in-roads with a prospect who is happy with another supplier, who is providing a similar product at a lower price? Product is lower quality, but perceived as the same.
A. Sounds like a tough nut to crack. Let’s think about this together. The first question I have is this: Is the potential of the account worth the large expenditure of time and effort that it will probably take to make progress in it?
Some accounts just aren’t worth it. It’s OK to make a cold-blooded business decision not to pursue some accounts and some business. (Assuming, of course, that your manager agrees.) The situation you described will take a lot of your time, and your success is certainly not assured. So, first decide if your time is best invested in this account or some place else.
Let’s assume that you have decided that the potential is worth the time, or that your manager has directed you to hang in there on this account. Now what?
“Happy with their current supplier,” is the most common thing prospects will say to you. It doesn’t necessarily mean that. It could mean that they are too busy to spend time with you, that they don’t know you or your company and have no motivation to get to know you. It’s the catch-all comment that means a thousand different things.
Your job is to find some point of “unhappiness”– what I call “discontent” — and then leverage that to create some interest in your solution.
Let’s start out with a little review of our own thinking and attitudes. Your competitor is supplying a product that you think is not as good as yours. But your customer is happy with it.
In this case, your superior quality is a non-factor. Who cares? Evidently, not the customer. The lower quality product is OK with him.
When we are selling expensive products, this is difficult for us to accept, but when we are in any other aspects of our lives, we understand this position totally. For example, I drive a Mercury, not a Mercedes. Now I understand that a Mercedes is a higher quality product than a Mercury. But I don’t care. I’m not a big car person and I just want something that is comfortable and reliable. The Mercury fits my needs perfectly. So, while you can make a case that a Mercedes is a better quality product, the point is that I don’t want it. So, it’s not a better quality product for me.
This is not difficult to understand. I suspect that you, too, have not spent the additional money to purchase a better quality automobile than that which you drive.
This customer is like that. You may have a better and more expensive product, but they are happy with their Chevy.
If you want them to throw out their Chevy and buy your Mercedes, you must find a way to make them unhappy with the Chevy.
So now we are back at the basics once again. There really is no short cut, 25 words or less magic solution. You have to do the hard work of sales. Find the key decision makers and influencers. Build a relationship such that they trust and respect you. Dig deep into the account and find some discontent – some gap between what they would like to have and what the Chevy is providing them.
If your product really is better, those portions of your product that are different that what they are using should some how save them money, or reduce their labor, or increase their profits, or make them feel more secure, or …. something. Your product should bring them some measurable advantage that they are not now receiving.
Your job is to find that gap, and then show how your product fills that gap, and how this customer is going to receive more value than the increase in price of the product is going to cost them.
This is a laborious and time consuming project that might take you the better part of a year. That’s why you have to make the key decision up front – is this account worth the time and effort?
If you don’t think you can do that, than don’t bother with this account. Leave your business card, let them know you’d be happy to talk with them if they ever want to do so, and find someplace else to sell your stuff.
We can help you learn to do this better. Consider Pod-2: Building Positive Business Relationships, Pod-4: Preparing Better Sales Questions, and Pod-6: Persuasive Presentations.
About the Author:
Dave Kahle is one of the world’s leading sales educators. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and seven countries, and has helped enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine, and visit his blog. For a limited time, receive $547 of free bonuses with the purchase of his latest book, How to Sell Anything to Anyone Anytime.
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