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“I Can Save You More Than You Are Currently Spending” And Other Stupid Sales Ploys

by David Brock on August 12th, 2014

We’ve all gotten the call, the phone rings, it’s a sales person.  Somewhere in the first 5 sentences of his pitch, he says, “I can save you more than you are currently spending,”  or something similar.

How utterly stupid!

Paraphrasing Ian Brodie, “How can you make that statement until you know what I’m doing and what I’m spending?”  I’m a little more sadistic than that.  Any sales person calling me with that claim, I immediately say, “That’s awesome, how do I take advantage of the deal?”  The sales person gets excited, continues their pitch, I interrupt, “You’ve sold me, don’t talk past the close.  But I’m not spending anything on your category of products, so if you are going to honor your commitment, I assume you will be paying me to use your product.”  You can probably guess where the conversation goes from here.

But think about it, who would train their sale people to use that approach without first learning more about what the customer is doing, what they are currently using, and a whole lot of other information you need?

Who would train their sales people to start the whole sales process making the single differentiating issue price–more importantly, a guarantee that you will be lower than current pricing?

Why would sales people or their companies set them up to lose from the opening sentences of their first prospecting call?

Or worst, some companies use this tactic as a way to entice the customer into listening and engaging them.  They don’t intend to honor that statement, they just want to get their “foot in the door,” getting the prospect’s time and interest, then shifting to what they really wanted to sell in the first place.

Yet we all experience this.  Each of us gets any number of unsolicited calls or emails with the same claim.  People don’t want to compete on value.  They don’t want to understand how they can create value.  They don’t want to compete for customer loyalty–because buying solely on price means they will always be willing to shift vendors to get a better deal and lower price.

This is an extreme case, unfortunately, it’s used all too frequently.  There are other variants that are just as poor.

What about the customer calling asking for a quote or pricing?  We all get these calls, customers call asking, “How much does it cost to buy this?”  “What do you charge for that?”  With the availability of all sorts of information about products and services on web sites, customers will often call just asking for pricing or quotes.

And what do most sales people do?  Anxious to please, thinking the customer is really interested, we respond.  We may ask a few nominal questions like, how many, what color, what delivery dates, and so forth–basically the information we need to provide them a price and quote immediately.  We skip our entire sales process, going to the very end, thinking that if we provide the pricing, we can then get the order–even though we don’t even know if we are dealing with a qualified customer.

We may be eager enough, we immediately enter the opportunity into our pipelines, anticipating a quick sale.

But we’re missing some important information, information critical to proposing a business justified solution that wins the business.  We’re missing things like:

What are they trying to achieve and why?

What’s their sense of urgency?  Why are they calling about solutions now?  Are they really looking to do something or are they just looking for a second/third quote, or pricing for budgetary purposes?

What is the problem they are trying to solve?  What caused them to be interested in our potential solution?  What alternatives are they considering?

Who’s involved in buying, what are their roles, how will they make a decision?  How will they get funding from their management and approval to move forward with implementing a solution?

Is the solution they are asking for the right solution for what they are trying to achieve?  Should we be suggesting a better solution?

And the list of information we need before we can tell them “how much it will cost,” goes on.

All we have to do is look at our sales process.  It gives us the clues of all the things we need to know, all the things we should be doing to align with the customer’s buying process, guiding them through the process in a manner that maximizes our ability to win.  But too often, anxious to please, we respond.  We provide a quote, we provide pricing–or at least a range.

When a customer calls, asking the price (at least for complex B2B solutions), the only reasonable response is, “It depends…..,” quickly followed by, “May I ask you a few questions about what you are trying to do, so that I can prepare a response that best enables you to achieve your goals?”

We may even consider another alternative.  The price is really not the most important thing to the customer.  The results the solution produces, expressed in business justified and financial terms is really the most relevant discussion.

So when the phone rings and a customer asks, “What is your price for this……?”  How are you going to respond?

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