A salesperson was asked to quote for a specific opportunity by a potential customer. He was very concerned that they expressed a bias towards a particular competitor, the number one supplier for his product. He asked me how he should put his case across to overcome this bias.
I suggested that he call on the potential customer with a statement along the following lines.
“I have a major concern” or “I’ve got a problem!”
Putting in a bid is an expensive business. It is costly in my time, my support people’s time, secretarial time and management time. I don’t like to make that investment unless I feel I have a reasonable chance of winning.
Yet, you often express a bias toward my major competitor. If at the end of this exercise, you are going to select them, I’d rather you’d tell me now than go through all the investment of time. If not, then tell me why you want me to bid?”
By tackling the problem head on in this way, you polarise the prospect. Either they will admit you have no chance or they will be forced to stop being so biased. Either way you have gained considerably. You will either save a lot of time not bidding a no-hope situation or you will materially shift the prospect’s perception of the sale by challenging them to be unbiased. Asking the customer to convince you that you should bid can be used as a technique to overcome many problems with major sales.
“You insist on a two-month delivery. I can only offer four months. If you will eventually blow me out because of this problem, then please let me know now rather than after a lot of work. Or, if you want me to bid, please relax your timescales. Why should I bid?”
If you ask your prospect to convince you that you should bid then, in convincing you, they will convince themselves.
In fact, if you really decide that you do not want to bid then it puts you in a very strong position. You can go to the prospect and say, ‘I’m very happy to bid here but you have to convince me that it is worth my while.’
You listen to their protestations and say, ‘No, I’m not convinced yet!’ The boot is on the other foot.
This opening line ‘I’ve got a problem’ is a very good way of starting a qualification meeting. It captures the prospect’s attention and appeals to their better nature.
For example, if you are scared that you will do a lot of work but that in the end you will exceed their budget then you might say:
“Thank you for seeing me. The reason I am here is that I have a problem. We can offer you a superb solution to your problem but, as you know, we will be 10% higher than your budget. Despite that, you say that you want me to give you a proposal. Could you explain to me why you want me to bid?”
As they explain to you, they are talking themselves into taking you seriously.
When a qualification meeting is held to discuss a particular sale, a number of points will arise. Later on in the sale, some of these issues will have been resolved, others will still be open and new issues will arise.
So, qualification cannot be a one-time event. It is a continuous process throughout the sale. There is no magic moment at which you can say that the sale is qualified, except when the order is finally signed.
Learn how SCOTSMAN® and Commitment Based Selling can train your sales professionals to overcome major concerns.