When you express a public opinion on a subject, you are opening yourself up to all kinds of responses. You'll hear from those who agree, and you'll hear from those who think only a blockhead could share your point of view. The only way to deal with it (and stay sane) is to sort the good from the bad, and remind yourself that everyone has a right to their opinion.
If you think about it, the same thing happens on a sales call. When you go out to see a potential client, you are taking a risk by exposing yourself and they will either love you, hate you, or be indifferent. You'll see and hear from all kinds of people, and you learn quickly that you aren't going to sell every call. It's a risky endeavor, not for the faint-hearted.
As a salesperson, if you want spectacular results, one of the things you might consider is giving your potential client an option when you quote the work they want done. Offer them a lower cost alternative to the job you've talked with them about. This can be a backup if they aren't sold on the original plan. Assuming you want to make more sales, let's look how this can work.
Remember first, you need to ask questions. Put your ego in your pocket (Cardinal Rule #4). You aren't there to tell them everything you know. You also aren't there to provide a free design service to get them to buy from you. Ask questions. You ask a question, they give you an answer, and you ask another question. They ask a question, you ask a question back. If you have to answer a yes or no question, give them the yes or no and tag a question to the end of your response.
When they are answering questions, it's pretty hard for them to think of questions to ask, like the favorite, "how much is this, that or the other?" Keep their mind on their project and you do that by asking questions.
Your questions will ferret out the information you need to put a proposal together. The more questions you ask, the less chance there is that something will get by you and having the sales call end with a statement like, "We will think about this and get back with you." That statement, or maybe one like, "Your price is too high," tell you loud and clear that you missed something.
You ask your questions, you compile the project, you quote the job the way you and your client have discussed it. You also have a backup plan (an option) in place that is anywhere from 20% to 30% less cost. Will the job be different? Of course, it has to be. But the important thing is they still can get most of what they want and at a price that may fit their budget much better than the original job you were talking about.
John and Mary want a kitchen and when you first compile the plan and the numbers, you have an $78,593 job. As an alternative, you change the cabinet wood or door style, maybe the decks and the floor coverings. There are things you can do to get your sales price down into the $56,000 to $60,000 range. Now when you make your presentation you quote the price and then ask them if they are ready to move ahead with the project. If they show hesitation, and you determine that it could be a money issue, then simply tell them that you have taken the liberty to look at their job from a slightly different perspective and that an alternative to their original plan would put the investment in the $56,000 to $60,000 range. If money is the object, they will want to look at that alternative almost immediately. If money is not the issue, then you need to start asking more questions to find out what their hesitation is.
The alternative option lets you pin down what their hesitation is to buying. Some folks might call that a buying objection, but to me it simply says I missed a step or a pertinent question and it is time to get to work and do my job as a salesperson.
You can also prepare an option that allows you to improve on a proposal. Jacob Meck sent us a note talking about just such a situation he found himself in:
"One way I have been able to upsell and give customers options and still stay within the confines of a fixed price quotation is to do change orders to present with the contract. To further explain, I just bid a nice deck project and did the contract as a base all pressure treated construction. I then did two change orders (again only with fixed price quotations) for the difference to upgrade to Timbertech decking and the second change order showing the deck built with a complete maintenance free composite handrail and fascia's on the band boards. Guess what, I sold the contract and the first upgrade and increased my sale by a couple of thousand dollars. Note, this was all prior to starting the project and was able to order this material at one time and do the deck without additional change orders."
So, assuming you ask lots of questions, is there still a chance you can miss the sale? Of course. That's why it helps to prepare an option so you are still in the game. The next time you are ready to make a presentation, be sure you have your options in place. It takes a little extra work on your part to put it together, but it works.
(Originally published in our email newsletter, May, 2012.)