The whole economic world has changed in the last few years. It will never be ‘business as usual’ again. Most companies that haven’t adapted to the changes will either no longer exist or will have suffered dramatically.
One thing that many salespeople tell us has risen high on the client’s agenda more than ever before is the concept of value and pricing. Costs have been squeezed until the pips don’t only squeak; they cry out in agony.
It would be strange these days if prospects and clients didn’t ask about the price of your products and services. Gone are the days when the costs incurred were absorbed into the overheads of the buyer’s company. Now, every penny or cent is vetted before being spent.
So, how do you deal with prospects who seem to put the price of your products at the top of the list of priorities when they are making decisions?
There is a very good question you can ask when the customer enquires about your price. It helps you and them to assess the relative importance of the price in their decision-making process. And it identifies what direction you take the rest of the conversation. The question is simple in its execution but profound in the results it obtains.
When the question of price comes up in the conversation, try asking, “Is price your only consideration, or are there more important things that you would consider?”
Now think about what the client’s answer will tell you. If they say “Yes, it’s my only consideration”, then you can weigh up the consequences of going down the ‘cheapest option’ route. You can assess whether you want to beat the competition and lower your price to the cheapest available. You may get the deal there and then. Or they may go back to the competition and ask whether they could match your lowest price.
The price shopper will always want to go cheaper if they can, and you are in danger of being taken to the cleaners by someone who simply wants a transaction and not a service. They may know the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
On the other hand, if they say, “Well, price is very important, but we also have to have speedy delivery and good quality. So, yes, I want good quality and your best delivery terms, but at your cheapest price”.
Now you’ve ‘smoked out’ the real criteria they will be judging your price against. In this example, the customer has confirmed that quality and delivery are foremost in his mind, but he still wants a good price.
You can start by emphasising that quality and delivery are your main concerns, too, and you want to make sure the value you offer is as good as it could be. You can emphasis that your company always wants to maintain their quality standards and that includes offering good delivery terms as well. The prices you offer allow you keep those high standards and cover the quick delivery too.
Here you justify your price, rather than apologising for it. If the client still feels the need to haggle, you can restore their confidence in you by returning to their words, which highlighted things other than price as being more important.
This type of question allows you to see exactly what you’re up against when the issue of price is raised and it shows you how serious they are about getting value from you rather than just seeing how low you will go.
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We all heard the old adage, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” However, I often wonder if some sales people truly understand the concept, or feel that it is still relevant when dealing with today’s modern buyer.
In a word, YES. From the beginning of time until the end of such, you must understand how to present the benefits, results, outcomes and problem solving solutions of what you sell. You must know how the VALUE of what you sell is worth far more than the sum of its parts.
In today’s high tech, futuristic era, it is tempting for sales people to concentrate too much on the makeup and “nuts and bolts” of a product, and less on what the product DOES for the buyer. Below is a quick Water Cooler style story that demonstrates why you must still sell the sizzle!
What Does It Do?
Just after the invention of the telephone, sales people took to the streets around the world selling this marvelous new invention. You would think that to sell telephones when they first came out would be extremely easy. Yet, many sales people had problems closing door-to-door sales for this new and advanced product.
However, one sales person consistently outsold everyone else, with sales nearly 300% higher than average. So, a wise sales manager set out to find out why.
The manager first rode along with some of the average sales people and found they had essentially the same sales presentation at the door:
“Hello! What I have here is a new invention called the telephone. Unlike the telegraph, this telephone takes your voice and breaks it down into electronic signals. It then takes those signals and transmits them across town via those wires overhead. The signal arrives at what we call a switching station miles from here, where the operator connects your electronic location with another location via a switchboard. Then, people miles away can hear you and you can hear them!”
The manager noticed that the sales people had vast knowledge of the product, but saw minimal results. He then went out with the super sales person whose presentation at the door went more like this:
“Mum, what I have here will allow you to talk to your friends and loved ones who are hundreds of miles away, and speak with them just as if they were sitting right here next to you in your home!”
Too Much Knowledge
As you gain expert knowledge of your product, be careful to remember that much of what you know is for YOU and you alone. Most people could care less about exactly HOW their car works. Rather, they want to know that it will transport them to where they want to go and do it in the style for which they desire.
While some products do require mechanical or technical explanation and selling, be careful not over do this. Think of those technical aspects and equate them to their beneficial counterpart.
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You’ve spent years perfecting your craft and learning everything there is to know about what you sell and the competition. However, you have to be careful not to allow that knowledge to flow too swiftly.
The Instant Response
Of course, some products and services require light-speed responses, but selling most products and services today, requires more of a consultative approach. The problem that often befalls experienced sales professionals is that they answer questions too quickly and solve problems too easily.
From extensive experience and knowledge, the sales person knows within minutes exactly what the prospect’s problems are and the precise combination of products and services to offer. However, when that determination appears to come too fast and without much effort, it diminishes the value.
Let me try to explain with the following analogy.
Not feeling well, you go to your doctor’s office. From the symptoms you wrote down on the appointment sheet, the doctor already knows exactly what the problem is. She has seen 20 other patients in the last few weeks with identical symptoms and identified the local virus that’s going around town. Before even seeing you, the doctor is near certain of the problem and the solution.
The Good Doctor
However, a good doctor will still take some time to ask questions and perform some type of an examination.
“So how long have you been feeling this way?” “Have you changed your diet?” “How is your appetite?” etc. The doctor begins to utter those famous phrases that show she is deep in thought in consideration of your case… “Uhm-um.” and “I see…”
Finally, after the, “Open your mouth and say ahh…” the doctor informs you of the virus, prescribes the medication and sets a follow up appointment.
Imagine however, the doctor who walks in and without even speaking to you, or checking you out just says, “You have a virus, take two of these pills, drink plenty of fluids and call me next week.” And then walks out!
The doctor builds the value of her services by properly recognising the value and severity of the problem.
The Consultative Response
When you solve issues and answer questions too quickly, you can unwittingly diminish the significance of the problem.
When you diminish the significance of the problem, you simultaneously lower the value of the solution TO the problem. Does that make sense?
Slow down. Don’t be so quick to blurt out answers, and that includes answering objections. Just because you can solve some problems or issues in a matter of seconds, does not always mean you should.
The more severe the problem is, the more valuable the solution will be.
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You want the customer to view you as more than a sales person. You want them to view you as more than a consultant. You need them to view you as a trusted advisor.
Only then do your views, your comments, your suggestions, your advice actually hit home to the client and make them pay attention to the ideas you bring to the table. So how do you bring this value, this creativity, to the attention of the prospect you have in front of you? Here are the four dimensions of being a trusted advisor:
1) The value you bring to the client’s company; this is the essence of what makes you who you are. The concept of people buying from people they trust has never been truer, and how you sell your own personal value will determine which way the sale goes.
2) The value your company’s resources bring to the client; these will be judged in the future by the prospect, but can create a firm foundation for growth now. What back-up, guarantees, warranties and such-like you can offer are important, but what you as a company can offer in backing up the validity of your support means even more to the prospect and their future business.
3) The value your solution brings to the client’s company; how they will benefit and prosper from what services you can provide for them will boost your chances of becoming the partnering company with them.
4) What you and your company add to the value your client brings to its own customers; this area is sometimes missed by salespeople, because they are considering their own products and services more than the customer’s customers. By providing market opportunities for your client to exploit turns you into a valued team member for their business, and creates a position of trust.
By ascertaining what value you bring to the client in these four dimensions, you build your reputation and trustworthiness at all levels within their business. And that’s the way you build toward being a trusted advisor.
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