Nothing can be more frustrating than working up an offering for a customer and then having them tell us, “Thanks for the number, James, I’ll let you know…” No salesperson is needed because no selling is involved; we just give a number and wait for the call-back or call back ourselves to find the product has already been bought. The only thing worse than losing orders is working for an order but never really having the opportunity to compete for it!
Below are two sure-fire ways to get out of the quoting business and get into the selling business!
I. Offer Product
One of the best ways to compete on price is to offer product and/or product solutions for our customers. Many of the salespeople we compete against every day are just shopping services. They never propose anything to the customer. If we never propose anything to our customers they are going to start treating us like shopping services.
Every sales training customer I work with tells me they want to form a ˜partnership’ relationship with their customers. If all we are is a shopping service, our customers will never treat us as partners. Imagine you own a business with a partner who never has an idea. They always come to you and ask you what to do next. This may be nice for getting our own way, but after awhile we are not going to feel like being ˜partners’ with this person.
Our customers feel the same way. The last thing they need is another person asking them what they should do next. This is what most salespeople do. They are too lazy to work up a proposal for their customer. They ask the customer, “Is there anything you are looking for today?” What this question really says to the customer is, “Hey, John, I’m too lazy to work for you today, will you work for me? Will you tell me exactly what you need and exactly what you want to pay for it?” “Will you negotiate with yourself, so I don’t have to?” These same salespeople complain about how poorly they are treated by customers.
After our initial call to our customer we should never call and ask them, “What do you need?” We should have found this out on our prospect call. After the prospect call we should always call with a product, a solution or deal that will interest our customer. When we call and offer a solution or product we are setting ourselves up with our customers as partners.
II. “What do you think of my deal?”
One of the best ways to break through the “Thanks for the number, I’ll let you know” scenarios is to ask the question, “What do you think of my deal?”
Customers will often answer, “Gosh, I don’t know, I need to get more numbers, I just started shopping for this, I haven’t bought it in awhile, I’ll let you know etc.” None of these answers allows us to do our job, sell. They all make us shopping services. The customer has an idea about your offering or they wouldn’t be listening in the first place. It is our job to get them to share their idea. We need to persist, “I understand you have to get other numbers, but what do you think of what I am offering?” Be prepared to go back and forth a couple of times, but please persist with the “What do you think of what I am offering?” question. This can cause some friction. So what? If we let our customers off the hook after we have given them our offer, we severely lower our Closing percentages. Do we really think the customer is going to “Let us know?” “Call us back?” They may, but not as often as we need them to! Getting our customers to talk about our deal is the beginning of Closing. We surely cannot get to a Closing situation by accepting the, “I’ll let you know…” response. We must get our customers to talk about what we are proposing. When our customer begins to talk about what they like or dislike about our offering, we are in a Closing situation and can now sell the customer.
In competitive markets we must make ourselves partners by offering product solutions and we must force the issue from time to time with the “What do you think of what I’m offering you?” question.