As a sales professional, please realize the difference in selling value vs price. If you are selling a value-based product against a price-based product, trying to compete on price is a recipe for an unfulfilling sales career. People who make purchasing decisions primarily on price will encourage a bidding situation between competitors.
When selling value, you can avoid bidding situations by establishing your value proposition early in the sales appointment with a discovery question about their intentions: “Is the lowest investment your only consideration, or is quality also important?” You want to hear the buyer say something like “Price is important, but we also want the quality to be good.”
Later in the sales process, if the buyer hesitates on the investment for your product, you simply refer back to their earlier statement about value. “I’m sorry, I thought you said earlier that you were interested in both pricing and quality.”
“Do you feel it is reasonable to pay the same for two different levels of quality?”
Remain calm because that earns you more negotiating time with the buyer. Sincerely ask about the buyer’s previous statement with the intention to understand. You want to discover what she is thinking at this point. If your buyer suggests your value-based product should be priced the same as your price-based competition, then you probably didn’t persuade her very well about the value of your product during the presentation.
The second way to avoid a bidding situation is refuse to participate. Let’s replay the example above. The buyer says, “Your bid is at $4,100 and your competitor’s bid is at $3,600. Match the competitor’s price or I will buy from them.”
You respond with, “I’ll be glad to see what we can do for you about lowering your investment. However, to ensure getting you the highest-quality product, I may not be able to match the competitor’s bid.”
Many buyers are so conditioned to deal in price, they are caught off guard. “Well, uh…why not?” your buyer asks.
That is your opportunity to affirm the value of your products. “Because there are too many ways to cut corners when the money is tight. We don’t believe in cutting corners. We charge enough to do the job right the first time.”
You’ve just planted a seed of insecurity in the buyer’s mind. She starts to wonder what she’ll lose in quality by playing the price game. You just reset the focus of the conversation from price back to value. If she is still in the conversation, she will probably say, “How low can you go?”
“I’ll check on it and get back to you as quickly as possible.” What you’ve just done here is to stall her from purchasing from the competition. If she’s really interested in how low you can go, she will wait for your answer before making any decisions.
The buyer may decide that value is a more important factor after all. Or the buyer may go ahead and buy from the competitor. But one thing the buyer won’t do is bid down your company and negatively affect your ability to move your product at a higher amount with other potential clients. You opted out of the bid-down situation, protected your margin structure, and made a powerful statement to the buyer about the value of your products. More important, you have made a powerful statement to yourself about the value of your products. Most salespeople “talk the talk” about the value of their products, but their actions betray their level of conviction when buyers squeeze them on price.
Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc. and Tigran LLC.
Excerpted from When Buyers Say No. Order an autographed copy here for less than Amazon charges for the book: http://www.tomhopkins.com/p/1590.html