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Customers Want More Than Your Best Price

Nov 16, 2007
Everyone likes a good deal. Unfortunately we salespeople may mistakenly accept that a good deal for the customer requires that we quote our best price.

That mistake is costly. It can rob us and our company of profits we need and deserve. It can shrink our close rate and cause buyers to act irrationally. When we give prospects a good deal instead of best price we will close more business with happier customers at higher profits.

We can help every customer get a good deal if they will let us take a consultative approach. While no one likes to be sold, it's difficult for customers today to buy what they really need. The global marketplace that is easily accessed through the Internet presents buyers with more choices for potential solutions than ever before. More choices mean more confusion, and confusion causes fear and irrational behavior. Prospects attempt to reduce fear associated with making the wrong purchase by looking for a simple test that will make the "right" choice obvious.

We often do the same thing when choosing candidates in political elections. Rather than immerse ourselves in the complexities of all the issues and then attempt to select the best (or least worse) candidate, we sometimes choose a major issue that we care about (examples might include abortion rights, immigration, the death penalty, gun control or free trade) and then choose candidates based on where they stand on that one issue. Creating a simple test ensures that we'll get at least one thing that's important to us in a candidate. Likewise when we're confused about what we want out of a purchase decision it's easy to revert to the simple-to-measure issue of price.

When your prospect asks for your best price you can confidently assure them you will give them a good deal if you will take time to follow through on three consultative actions during your selling encounters.

I. Consider the Whole Product
Every product or service typically has a core functional component plus secondary supporting components such as installation, training and support. In the same way that we focus on the core function when we are the buyer, our prospects associate the purchase price with the core function and ignore the secondary supporting components.

When shopping for a flat-screen TV, it's easy to compare prices across similar screen sizes. It's also easy to ignore secondary components like warranty, serviceability, user interface and service life, all of which can have a huge impact on purchase satisfaction. A consultative salesperson gets the buyer to consider how the secondary components might become critical aspects of a really good deal for them.

We could buy homeowners insurance based on the core coverage limits. We ask for quotes on policies with the same coverage limits from difference insurance companies, thinking that an "apples to apples" comparison will allow us to easily identify the best deal when we see the best price. Yet secondary components can be critical to our satisfaction with the purchase. Is there a single point of contact such as a local agent whom we can talk to when we have questions or problems? How does their claim service work? Do they pay? Before Hurricane Katrina, thousands of victims believed they had found the best price on insurance. Later they learned their insurance companies wouldn't pay their hurricane damage claims, leaving them devastated and homeless. Best price no longer seems like such a good deal to them. Sadly, we often don't take time to consider the whole product until after we've learned an expensive lesson.

II. Enable the Need-Full Purchase
Many secondary components may be worthless to the purchaser and may not be part of their good deal at all. Until the salesperson understands the buyer's situation and what the buyer really needs the purchase to do for them, the salesperson is in no position to recommend the right combination of product or service components for the customer.

Prospects often revert to making decisions based on "best price" because they don't even know which questions to ask. A consultative salesperson can educate the prospect on potential questions and then be prepared to help find answers to those the prospect finds relevant to their needs. This gives the salesperson an opportunity to establish trust by being an advocate for the consumer. Salespeople who suggest self-serving or biased questions that are slanted toward the seller's product or service will only erode trust and jeopardize the sale.

A good deal provides more than just what the customer asked for; it also satisfies what they intended to do. It's up to the salesperson to make sure everyone is clear on what that is so the purchase can fulfill as many needs as is practical.

III. Make the Deal Safe
Consultative salespeople can promise every prospect a good deal because they know that everyone wants something more than just the best price. Lazy salespeople will simply give prospects what they ask for instead of what they really need. Take an approach that ensures your customers never throw their money away.

The consultative salesperson knows that a customer usually loses when the purchase decision is made primarily on price. Customers are almost always limited by time and money, but spending less than what is really required to satisfy the purchase intent is a waste of those resources. The product or service purchased is often incapable of performing all that the buyer needs done. The buyer risks losing their entire investment and more; when homeowners insurance doesn't pay a claim, the insurance premiums are gone and so is their home.

A good deal may not be a perfect deal, but it is always a safe deal. When you give a buyer everything they need so they are not wasting their money, you can feel satisfied in knowing you are giving them a really good deal even though your price may not be the best price.

Good Deal Trumps Best Price
When customers believe the best price is more important than a good deal, you've already lost the sale. Use the consultative selling approach to uncover your buyer's unspoken needs, understand their application intent, and link them to the relevant components of your whole product. Show them how the solution you offer is a safe bet for them, and your new customer will soon be telling all their friends about the good deal they got from you.

Copyright 2007 Paul Johnson
About the Author
Paul Johnson works with selling organizations to convert sales trouble into double and triple digit performance breakthroughs. Visit http://ConsultativeSelling.com for a simple definition of Consultative Selling and more sales insights.
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