Come again? I can hear you say. Its one of the main objectives for the first call isn’t it? Find out what the client wants to buy, find out how much he wants to buy it for, then sell it to him. Simple.
True, and that advice can be good advice, but on the condition that you know the client well, and that in having done a good job for them in the past, you have built up a large level of trust.
The consultative sell
The two call sell (by Dough Clough, from at least 15 years ago!) tells us the purpose of the first call in a two call, or consultative approach, is to establish trust and rapport, and to identify a need opportunity or want on the client’s behalf. The idea being having provided a solution to the problem identified in the first call, and leveraging the trust you built, you are able to close the sale on the second call.
One problem. You can develop rapport for sure. It’s a pretty poor sales person that can’t do that. If they can’t build rapport, its unlikely the organisation they are selling for would have given them a job in the first place.
No, the problem is the trust bit. I have long-standing friends I don’t fully trust! And sales people, at least in this country, are generally regarded, lets say, in a cautious manner. You build trust over time, not in a first call. You’ll certainly develop enough trust to be allowed to continue to communicate, but that’s it. For the rest of the relationship you are being weighed and measured and assessed. The better you do, and the better results you get, the more the trust develops.
Trust in me, just in me!
So given they don’t trust you, at least not nearly as quickly as most sales people would like to think, why on earth do you think they would give you a genuine answer to the question ‘how much money do you have to spend?’
Think of the sorts of situations you might encounter that question yourself.
Buying a used car? The nice and friendly sales person approaches and asks if they can help you. Promising start! If you progress far enough to tell them you are looking to buy a car, they invariably ask you for a budget right? Your response?
You underestimate how much you tell them you are willing to pay. Why? Because you don’t want to get ripped off. This pattern is repeated anytime you are looking to buy something. The hi-fi store, TV shop, computer shop. In fact anytime anyone asks you how much you have to spend, you’ll not give them the ‘full amount’. Rather some sort of first advance, to ensure you aren’t fully committed, and to ensure you don’t position yourself as some sort of mug.
Why do we expect our clients to do anything different to what we do ourselves? Unless, as I have said, they fully trust that you are there to do a great job for them and are there to solve a problem. Unless they trust you are with them in complete partnership. But this only comes in time.
Selling for how much they’ve got, not how much it costs
There is another problem with this. And in some ways it may be considered a far bigger issue. Sales people appear to be consumed with coming in on budget. Fair enough, but what if the clients problem costs more than they’ve said they have to spend to solve?
Too many sales people simply make it fit. Despite their reputation as hard edge commercial machines designed to maximise profit, most are too ready to provide whatever the product required at whatever the price the client ‘set’ when giving the budget in the first place.
Weird isn’t it? These paragons of commerce, so paranoid that the client won’t buy they are consumed by not over pricing.
The trust gap
Yet at the same time the clients are pretty sure that they are getting caught out! I’ve always found this very frustrating, this lack of trust on both parts. The sales person doesn’t trust the client will see the value in what they sell, and the client doesn’t trust that the sales person has their best interests at heart. This trust gap can only be over come over time as the sales person demonstrates their motivations are ‘honourable’ and the client that they value the advice they are getting.
So how do we solve the problem? Its simple really. Price consistently and transparently at all times. And offer the client whatever it takes to solve their problem, not what you think they can afford. (Or what they told you they can afford)
You get what you pay for
It’s a fundamental truth of the universe that you can’t get high quality at low price. Cheap things are, well, cheap. And quality comes at a cost. So don’t be afraid of asking for what your product is worth. Or at least not second guessing what the client has to spend when constructing a solution to their problem.
It’s the only way to go. Take a good brief, find out what the problem is, and provide a solution at a transparent and consistent pricing point.
It’s what you would expect yourself. You’d expect to be told how much something costs right? You’d expect to pay a fair price, and you’d expect the organisation benefiting from the sale to make a profit. Thats fair enough, that’s the way the world works. So why all this agonising over how much to charge, or what level to pitch?
It will cost whatever it costs. And if they don’t believe you, or can’t afford it, they won’t buy it.
It’s just like magic
Having found out how much the solution to their problems will cost, most people then go about justifying it. Thats right, we convince ourselves that the thing we need, or even better, want, is so worthwhile, that its worth the cash that’s being asked for. We do it all the time when it comes to stuff we buy.
Think how different it feels to buy rather than sell? That panic that maybe the thing you want isn’t in stock, or that you might have to wait for it to be ordered in (or is that just me!) And having set yourself a price limit or budget, how you go about convincing yourself that you can go that extra pound, or tenner, or thousand pound or whatever is relevant.
But when clients are doing the buying, we act like they are aliens with alien motivations! What are they thinking we ask? We know exactly what. It’s exactly what we ourselves think when we are buying!
Like with so many other things when it comes to selling, the only way to go is to be honest, up front and authentic. Tell it like it is, price it as it costs. Stand by your solution and what you have asked for. If you have done your job, and the clients see that this is the case, you may even find them justifying the cost to themselves, without your intervention!
What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.