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. Joel Green of J.S. Products in Helena, MT, had a prospect whose business was booming — which left the prospect with no time to think about changing vendors.
My greatest sale taught me the value of calling on prospects when they’re feeling low.
For years, I’d been targeting one prospect in particular. They looked like a great opportunity. The company was expanding. They had a clear need for our product, which could save them money on their growing operations.
The only problem: They were just too darned busy to talk to me.
The prospect leased heavy construction equipment. I sold very high-quality (and very expensive) oil that improves both the performance and life span of heavy machinery.
Not for a million bucks
One day the prospect told me, “You know, I don’t care if you could save me a million dollars. I just can’t be bothered right now to think about switching vendors.”
He’s an extreme example of a buyer who’s too busy to make a change. But when you think about it, most buyers would rather not go through the trouble of establishing new relationships and adjusting to a new vendor. They’ll only do it if the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing.
This guy had plenty of pain, but it wasn’t about money. His time was in critically short supply. He was not going to take on anything that would steal away any of his time.
Then the construction industry slowed down in our area. I knew that all that rapid expansion had left my prospect especially vulnerable. I decided to call on them and see how things were going.
“We’re getting hammered,” my prospect admitted. “So why in the world would I want to spend 20% more on oil?”
I thought he’d never ask.
Now that I had his attention, I asked him several questions. How many units do you have? How often do you overhaul the engines? How much does that cost? Turns out this company overhauled engines more often than the industry average. And the cost per overhaul was significantly higher as well. All of which I could help with.
Before I hung up the phone, I asked the prospect, “What’ll happen if you’re not able to control your costs during this rough spell?” He admitted it would be very bad for his company.
He invited the whole team!
Just two days later I met with the prospect. I learned that he’d invited several members of his top team. He was really taking this seriously. In my presentation I showed them that by using our oil he could reduce overhaul frequency by 25% and save tens of thousands of dollars in the coming year alone.
That got their attention. At one point the CFO, said, “If what he says is true, we’d have saved nearly half a million dollars in equipment replacement over the last two years.”
I walked out with a commitment to supply oil for 25% of their machines. A year later, the results were so good that they gave me the entire account, worth about $250,000 per year – all because I called on a prospect whose business was in the dumps.
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