Editor’s note: Greatest Sales are true accounts of how successful salespeople closed the deal despite sales objections, buyer inertia, cutthroat competition and other obstacles. In the interest of confidentiality, the details are disguised.
by Jason A, Industrial Sales
Sometimes the key to getting a sale is as simple as telling your prospects what they already know.
My company is an industry leader. We have a great track record, a great client list, a stellar reputation – and premium prices.
Our prospect owned a small manufacturing firm. He’d just won a huge contract and we were bidding to supply the molds for the project.
This would be a major sale for us. The buyer knew it and was determined to squeeze us. “I know you’re used to big customers who pay top dollar,” he said with a smile. “Well, I want top quality and low prices. What’s wrong with that?”
‘You have to work on the price’
My team met with the firm’s engineering staff and we placed a bid.
Predictably, the buyer came back to me and said the price was too high. “We have other bids that are lower than yours,” he said. “If you want a shot at this job, you’re going to have to work on the price.”
I met with my team and we discussed the bid. One of our engineers knew the prospect socially. He told us that he’d gone through several lean years before landing this big contract and was broadcasting his newfound success to anyone who would listen.
That got me thinking. This was the last guy in the world who should be taking risks by hiring cut-rate suppliers. He had the make-or-break chance of a lifetime.
I called the prospect and said I had some new thoughts on the bid. Could I meet with him and some members of his production team?
All about the risk
My presentation was simple: It showed a flow chart of the entire project – from inception to the deadline the customer had designated for products to be delivered. I highlighted critical points where things can go wrong.
I asked, “What if delivery of prototypes is delayed here?” And “What if your vendor gets bogged down in correcting prototype flaws at this stage?” And “What if the final molds arrive late?” And “What if support staff isn’t available to troubleshoot problems?” And so on.
I never bad-mouthed my rivals, but I did remind the prospect that our company had an unparalleled track record, and our bid was designed to ensure that expectations would meet reality.
Then I got around to price.
I said, “Yes, we charge more than some of our competitors. That’s what allows us to deliver on our promises. I’m sorry, but we simply cannot cut our price.”
Of course, the prospect knew the risks I discussed. Maybe he needed to be reminded of them. Or maybe he was just testing us. I never knew. But I could see that my presentation got him refocused in a hurry. Suddenly, price had fallen sharply on his list of priorities.
The next week the prospect called. We got the account. And guess what he talked about? Hitting deadlines. Delivering on our promises. In other words, the things that mattered most all along. And he never mentioned price again.
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