Problem: Phil is a salesperson I coach and he told me about a quote he had done on a 5-axis CNC machine for a potential new customer. He swore during our coaching sessions it was a “sure deal.” I just got off the phone with Phil who informed me the deal went to a competitor. He had called to review what went wrong. “I don’t understand,” he stated, “I quoted exactly what they wanted.”
Analysis: After listening to him describe the interactions he had with the prospect this is what I told him…
One of the first homes I purchased did not have a garage so we added one. I did what most buyers do which is to get at least two bids. The first contractor was very professional. He talked about his college degree in construction management, his years of experience, how he was licensed and bonded, etc.
The second one was less formal and he asked what we wanted to do with the garage other than house our vehicles. He inquired about the items we would store in the garage; whether or not we needed a workbench; do I work on and repair things; how many children do we have and what if any of their items would be in the garage; etc.
The first contractor’s quote was professionally prepared, came in a binder and detailed the materials, blueprint, his credentials, etc. The second contractor’s bid was one sheet on his letterhead with the size of the garage and the price – that was it. We contracted with him to build our garage.
When I informed the other contractor of our decision, he was offended. He knew the other contractor and commented that he did not have near the credentials or experience.
What type of contractor would you be?
Solution: The “professional” contractor did not lose the bid due to price or his credentials. He lost it because the other contractor asked questions and listened to what we wanted. He knew that people don’t want to spend money building garages; what they want is the net effect of what a garage will do for them. In the world of selling, too often forget that and we believe that quotes sell. Well, as Phil learned, they don’t.
No matter how professional, accurate, detailed your quote is you will always lose a deal when a competitor develops a better relationship. Building business relationships today is not about discussing the customers favorite sports team, their kids, or the weather. Those discussions are still necessary but you have to be able to go from that discussion to one about the person’s business.
Selling successfully today requires the ability to:
- Do more than present the features and benefits of your equipment.
- Ask questions around what they hope the equipment will do for their business and/or them personally.
- Talk about the financial impact. The cost of the problem, the cost of not solving the problem, the price of acquiring the equipment, the cost of operating the equipment, just to name a few.
What about you? Can you have a business conversation with your customers? If not, you better have the lowest price.