Now you’re ready to create the opportunity, to put all the pieces of the puzzle together for the customer. You should have all the information you need to create a win-win solution.
Keep in mind though, there may be a need for an alternative solution, because there’s often more than one way to solve the customer’s problem, and he just may not be enamored with all aspects of the solution you presented.This allows the customer to retain “final control” over the decision-making process, but you’re still guiding him towards that.In fact, if you firmly believe your overall solution is superior to the alternative solution the customer has come up with, you must stick to your guns, you must explain why your solution is superior. Don’t be disagreeable but make your point and bring the customer along with you.It’s in his best interest.
You’re teaching the customer, not persuading him. You’re creating a trusting, collaborative milieu, as opposed to a hostile one, in which the customer often gets defensive. A famous Chinese proverb says, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I will learn.” With LAUNCH, you’ve achieved the latter two.
You’re a salesperson, not a robot. You may not have all the answers to the customer’s concerns. Don’t toss out an answer you’re not 100% sure of—that’s beyond foolish. It’s perfectly acceptable to sayyou’ll need to get back to him about that;it’ll even garner you a dose of respect. A single incorrect answer can destroy your credibility and you won’t be able to recover.
The customer has probably already met with your competition. Inevitable comparisons usually lead to inevitable questions, which you should welcome with open arms. Alas, appearances can trump substance. When the customer attempts to take control with his comparative questions, you must parry his questions into your questions. For example, “I understand the point you’re making . . . but . . . .” Or,“Brand X can . . . however, If we do . . . isn’t that a better solution?”Or, “I realize Brand X is less expensive, but let’s list their strengths and weaknesses and compare them to our solution (balance sheet close).”Warning—never knock the competition; people instinctively don’t like that, in most cases it’ll cause the customer turn on you.
Now it’s time to focus on price. If you’re selling a commodity, 99% of the time it’s sold on price. If you’re selling a value-added product or service, price is usually not the most important aspect of the sale. Your price may be fixed; however, in most cases you need to have the authority to negotiate. There are three types of pricing strategies: standard, market-driven, and strategic.
Standard pricing has the least flexibility, but because you’ve used LAUNCH, you’ve more than likely added value and avoided discounting, to say nothing of pinpointing your customer’s dominant buying motive.Your competitors probably used a plug-and-play approach—too bad for them. For example, say the product they were selling is a TV and they tried to sell the customer the TV itself, whereas you sold the TV utilizing the dominant buying motive (the TV-watching experience)—the sizzle instead of the steak, as Mr. Ziglar so aptly put it.
Market-driven pricing is whatever the customer is willing to pay. LAUNCH makes figuring that out so much easier. The question is, How much is the added-value worth in determining price? How you arrive at the correct price: not leaving anything on the table, but not getting greedy, either.Become greedy and you’ll lose your credibility—BOOM! You’re back to asking questions:“If we satisfy . . . how much additional value does this add for you?”Or, “If we meet . . . need, what does it mean to you financially?”Or, “How much have you budgeted for . . .?”And, “Have I described a solution that seems to be within your budget?”And, “If our solution exceeds your expectations, are you able to expand your budget?”The objective is to ascertain the highest acceptable price the customer is willing to pay. Warning: never ask the customer, “What are you willing to pay?” Do that and you’ll ignite a negotiating inferno that three-dozen fire departments couldn’t extinguish!
Strategic pricing is developed around a specific strategy. Are you attempting to enter a new market with an existing product or service? Or, Are you trying to get into an existing market with a new product or service? Or, Are you introducing a new idea or technology? Or, Are you introducing a disruptive concept or technology? Or, Are you trying to eliminate a competitor? Don’t view strategic pricing through the prism of a business or marketing strategy; look at it in the context of the sales process.
New market with an existing product or service strategy:Don’t use any past pricing. Determine what the market price is (see market-driven pricing); that’s your starting point to close the sale.
Existing market with a new product or service:Start with your highest price-point. Your product or service was developed to offer a distinct value,which didn’t exist before or hasn’t been addressed by the competition. Have the mindset that the customer will pay more, and you’ll walk away with a higher price than he would have otherwise paid.
New idea or technology:It was developed to save money, enhance life/business/competitive experience, increase market share, or some other whiz-bang effect for the customer. It’s exciting and fun to sell a new idea or technology; the enthusiasm can be contagious. If it’s first to come on the market,make sure the price equals the value; however, the price can’t be so high, as to allow the competition to undercut your company’s price.
Disruptive idea or technology: This can be a hard sell. The customer will almost always perceive the price as too high, because disruptive ideas are usually ahead of the market and the value has yet to be recognized by the customer. You must create the need, as the customer won’t see it (think iPod). Create a story, a word picture, of the product’s/service’s future possible use. The customer will see the benefits and how it can change lives, to say nothing of his company’s increased profits. In this scenario you may have to price somewhat lower than you’d prefer, in order to get some traction. Don’t concern yourself about that; you’ll be able to raise the price later.
Taking out a competitor:In certain circumstances you’ll want the business so badly that no matter the cost you’ll do whatever it takes re the price to eliminate a competitor. Here’s a question you can use in that situation: “If we do this for you, and together we create this fabulous, profitable business, can you visualize any possibility of ever going back to xyz for any logical reason?”
Keep in mind, the quality of the customer experience rarely has anything to do with the price of the product or service.
Now’s the time to use hand the customer the brochure, et cetera. Whatever you’re giving him should reinforce the opportunity you just created. If you’ve done your job correctly and professionally, the customer is revved up and can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next.
Reiterate, qualify,and quantify the opportunity.
Opportunities have a ticking shelf life—the expiration date should be in neon, in your mind. It’s your deadline to close the sale.
Don’t leave the customer with any unanswered questions. Ask them: “Have I left anything at all unanswered for you?”Unanswered questions are like tornados—they swoop in and destroy everything in sight. If the customer just says no and leaves it at that, you’ll have to dig a little deeper: “Tell me, is the anything at all you suspect might be lacking in our solution?”
Customers are skeptical of silver bullets and “perfect” solutions—don’t get carried away and oversell.
If the meeting is running late, congratulations! Don’t remind the customer he’s gone over the allotted time. What, are you crazy!?
If the customer tells you that he’s still on the fence, it’s time for you say, “I apologize, I obviously haven’t established the value for you. I’d like to go over it one more time to see what I’ve missed.”
When you’re giving a price, always keep this in mind: your job is to price-quote what the customer has told you he wants, and what he hasn’t told you he wants, because he doesn’t realize it yet! You should be aware of what he hasn’t mentioned, if you’ve been asking the right questions. You’re a Pro, aren’t you?
Finally, do not end the meeting without scheduling the next meeting!