Whoa! You’ve done everything right, you’re cruising toward a major sale, you think it’s in the bag, when suddenly, for no reason that seems to make much sense, the customer balks and the deal goes up in smoke. What just happened?
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When a price objection surfaces, most salespeople crumble. Or, they take the path of least resistance and match a competitor's price. Salespeople need to understand that buyers are being professionally trained to ask for price concessions…
“Your price is too high.” “We’re loyal to our current supplier.” “I prefer your competitor’s product.” Classic objections such as those are very hard to overcome when they pop up near the end of your sales call-after you have presented your company and your product, and after you have expended most of your sales ammunition. But objections are far easier to handle if you uncover them earlier in the process…
If your salespeople have studied the Action Selling System, they’re aware of the research-proven fact that every customer makes Five Key Buying Decisions—and always makes them in the same order, whether consciously or not. First the customer decides whether to “buy” the salesperson. Then the salesperson’s company. Then the product. Then the price. Then the time to buy.
“To get it, you’ll have to ask for it,” Joe said. “It’s amazing how many so-called salespeople don’t. One study found that 62 percent of all salespeople fail to ask for commitment when completing a call. They present their product, they quote a price, the client says something like, ‘I’ll think it over and get back to you,’ or ‘Can I keep the brochures for a few days?’ and these comedians say, ‘Gee, sure, here’s my card, thanks for your time, bye.’ They’re strictly amateurs, no matter how long they’ve been selling for a living.”
I have consulted with hundreds of companies over the years, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the comment: “Our business is different.” I understand, and I agree. But I would take that difference down another notch or two. Every salesperson and every sales call is different; to treat them as the same is a huge mistake.
Salespeople know that they're supposed to sell to the customer's needs. Here is the classic—and tragically wrong—way they usually learn to do it: Uncover the first need. Begin a product presentation, covering features and benefits. Then attempt to uncover another need. More product talk. Etc. Research shows that presentations like this are 25 percent less effective than those in which a thorough needs assessment is followed by a summary of all of the customer's needs…
Scott had never looked at it that way. “I guess you’re right,” he said, thoughtfully. “It’s as if I’m helping to create a system of discounting — a culture where price-haggling is normal. I took a vacation last year, and it really struck me how different the whole concept of shopping is when you go to a resort or deal with a beach vendor. Nothing has a set price. You’re expected to haggle. The vendors think you’re an ignorant jerk if you don’t haggle with them. Geez, have I managed to turn myself into one of those guys who sells straw hats to tourists?”
Action Selling’s emphasis on questioning skills is key. Great questions do a lot for a sale, but above all they build trust. No matter how good the pitch, a customer who has been pitched has no reason to trust a salesperson enough to keep on taking those steps. But a customer who has been expertly questioned—and listened to, and understood—has every reason to believe that the salesperson cares about him and his real needs. Of course a customer will walk hand in hand toward a solution with a partner who has earned his trust and obviously is dedicated to finding the best solution. I would. So would you.