Written by Sean McPheat |
“Be careful out there!” These words were said during most episodes of Hill Street Blues by Sgt. Phil Esterhaus. He was advocating that his staff pay attention and be careful when out in the field.
Your manager should be saying the same to you, every time you go out in the field! Because there are some cunning prospects out there who will strip you of every bit of knowledge you have.
Here’s some things that you need to keep your eyes and ears open for:
The prospect who asks for a free consultation:
This is a demand that you provide up-front work without any commitment from them and they want the benefit of your experience and knowledge for free. Before agreeing to do any up-front work, you should demand a significant concession that will help you close the business.
An example would be “We’ll be happy to work with you on that basis, providing you give us regular access to your sales teams.”
By asking for something of value to you, you show the customer that this is something of great value to them.
The prospect who keeps delaying the meeting:
You may find that the delays between meetings get greater and greater. They may be trying to frighten you into giving more concessions because you’re afraid you might lose the deal.
An example might be “Can we postpone Monday’s meeting until later in the month?”
There has to be some negatives associated with the delay. You could suggest that your prices may be going up, or something regarding the servicing of the account may be affected.
What you’re trying to do is see if this is a scare tactic to get you to concede in some way. If they are really having problems meeting with you, it could be genuine. If they see opportunities for meetings suddenly open up, maybe they were trying it on.
The prospect who stalls right at the end:
The prospect may say they’re not sure if this deal is right for them at this time. And you’ve spent days going through the proposal with them!
They might be trying to get some extra concession, so flush out if the stall is really genuine. Go back in the discussions to determine if there are real objections that haven’t surfaced yet. If there are, you might need to go through how you can help with those nagging thoughts the prospect still has. If they don’t exist, you will see it’s just a stall that may be looking for more concessions.
And that brings us to:
The prospect who is about to sign then asks for just a little bit more discount:
They may say something like “Reduce by just 10% and we have a deal!”
You need to make sure right from the start, and all the way through, that your price is the best possible for this contract. If you think there may be room for manoeuvre, then ask what the prospect would like to cut back on to meet the criteria for the extra discount.
This will keep the conversation on a professional level and make the prospect realise there is no movement unless there is a concession on their part.
Make sure you prepare well by knowing your limits and identifying how far you could go.
So keep your eyes and ears open for these cunning ploys that some prospects play, and remember: “Be careful out there!”
Originally published: 19 May, 2010
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