Salespeople, in general, face some difficult decisions throughout the year if they have not decided upon the image they wish to convey in the marketplace. As a provider, where on the high or low-price, quality or quantity and quick sale or long-term spectrum of sales do you wish to land? Prospects, exploiting this dynamic, repeatedly ask for everything they can get and put the salesperson in a position of doing what it takes to close the sale.
The easier and, often, less effective route taken is to acquiesce to the demands made, and simply move on to the next opportunity. The unfortunate reality is that these "giveaway" programs have an adverse impact on the business owner's bottom-line.
I made a sales call on a very large prospect who presented me with an interesting scenario. It was apparent from the decision-makers' attitude and behavior that they were accustomed to calling the shots by throwing their weight around. Over a series of sales calls, I had established a strong relationship with them and uncovered some very pressing reasons, I call them "pains," to do business. Upon being asked to submit a proposal, I asked them, in return, to identity the three main areas I was to address. Price, timing and impact were to be my focus which one key player qualified by stating, "The highest quality, lowest price and the greatest impact will be considered as your solution is reviewed." I was taken aback for a moment and when I recovered said, "Then I won't be submitting a proposal as one of the three elements, lowest price, does not represent the way I conduct business." He volunteered that my two competitors were willing to comply and couldn't understand why I would not.
Instead of debating the merits of my competitors' position, I asked whether it would help if I clarified how I would approach the required three elements in my proposal. He agreed and I responded, "Highest quality, best value and maximum impact." He wanted me to elaborate and I proceeded to break them down for him as follows: Highest quality: I have made a conscious choice to deliver the highest quality training and source clients who value its depth and breadth. Best value: I have made the deliberate decision to never play in the low-price arena as there is no way to do so without sacrificing quality, regardless of what my competitors say. Maximum impact: I judge the success of my training programs by the lasting effect they have on my clients. Maximum impact, to be sustained, occurs over time and repeated application; never in a mystical one-day "life-changing" workshop.
I wound up walking away from the sale and chose not to present my program because it didn't fit the business image and standards to which I adhere in my company. My reputation would have taken a hit as, even if I won the bid, my training efforts wouldn't have delivered the results the prospect expected.
Take the time to decide what image you want to communicate in the marketplace. When a prospect or client asks you for the highest quality product or service, an unrealistically low price and an impossibly lofty impact, the real question is how desperate are you to make the sale? If you even try to accomplish all three, you penalize your bottom-line for a one-time sale and you already know your competitors can always claim they can beat your quality as well as undercut your pricing to win future business.
If you decide to play this dangerous game, make sure your chair has a seat belt as you're going for a wild ride. Go conquer your worlds.
• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. firstname.lastname@example.org. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.