By Tom Searcy
You know you are going to talk about price — you know that it is first and foremost on the buyer’s mind and yet we avoid it like we avoid someone to whom we lost a college football rivalry bet.
You have to move the discussion from your product/service/solution and its price to their financial outcome. The most effective sales people are able to discuss price outside of the context of their own competitive market and in the context of the real numbers of the decision-maker’s business. The best sales people see all dollars spent by their customers as investments made in changing the customer’s business outcome.
Last week I gave an example of this with the tale of the $8.71 bag of screws. The point of the blog was that for a construction supplies buyer, the real price was not in the commodity of the screws, but in the economics of labor expense. For your business, in your largest customers, the price is secondary to the real business problems that you solve.
- — Price is often a reflection of confidence. One client wanted my company to help him grow his sales $100 million in 3 years, but he was concerned about the price of the services. I asked him if he would pay $5 million if he was sure that the results would be the $100 million in sales. He said absolutely. So the question was not about price, since $5 million was much more than I would charge. The issue was about confidence.
- — Price is a reflection of knowledge. Decision-makers default to price because they have no other comparative context to evaluate providers. You need to teach the buyer how to differentiate providers. Be careful: When you are using this technique to sell yourself, rather than educate your buyer, you will lose trust. If you want to be successful in selling large accounts, never get caught selling.
- — Price is a reflection of history. Failing memories can kill a client relationship. Often times a buyer does not remember the reason that he or she stopped using a lower-priced provider. They see the presentations and price promises being made by your competitors and forget that these were the same promises that got them into trouble the last time they focused on price as the decision fulcrum. You have to connect their negative past history to their at-risk outcome.
What should you do to be more effective in selling?
- Do you know the outcomes that the customer is buying when they purchase from your company? Can you quantify those outcomes in real dollars, time or risk? If you can, you can change the conversation away from just price and make it more about confidence, increasing the decision maker’s confidence.
- Do you know the history of the customer in buying the products/services/solutions that you are selling? If you do, you can frame the positive outcomes you produce in the context of the failures they have experienced.
- Do you have a clear picture of who is the right provider to the right customer? You need to be able to say not only when and how you are best, but also when you are not. Money is sexy when it is your own money. Think like your customer, talk about their money and the conversation will be much more compelling.