At Fespa Digital 2012, as part of the Explore Conference programme, Paul Streeter-Jewitt posed the question: Is it possible to win business even when yours is the highest priced quote? He thinks you can – here’s how.
The primary responsibility of all executives is to show a profit. In business, the trick is to make new money while holding on to as much existing money as possible. All businesses have costs associated with running the company. Two of these categories are supplies and advertising. While there is a need to promote business and products through services like printing, it must be done without depleting the budget. So they set out to compare across products and services and find the best price.
Your task is to show your prospect that printing services are an investment not a cost and that there is a return on their investment. It can be done and it must be done. But to achieve this, you need to move beyond price and sell the value.
1. People buy people first
So what is of value to your customer? All customers are driven by “What’s in it for me?” and the first “WIIFM?” for your prospect is the relationship with you as the seller. People buy people first and then they buy the products and services that the person represents. Start positioning yourself and your services as different right at the beginning of the conversation. Your prospect is listening to you and making a judgement on you. He is deciding if you are someone he can work with, if you are someone he can trust with his business, if you are someone who will demonstrate competence, experience and a clear understanding of what he wants done. Image, reputation and status are key drivers in deciding who to work with so establish your credentials at the start and begin to build the relationship.
2. Use an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is something you should use at the start of every sales to help reinforce your competence and credibility. It is a statement that can be delivered in a very short time, say the seven seconds, and it lets you present your company’s credentials with impact. Ask “How familiar are you with xyz printing services?” The advantage with this question is that it doesn’t matter what the answer is. You are simply setting up the opportunity to deliver the response that is your elevator pitch. Try “You’re right; xyz printing services is a wide-format print specialist in that market. The company also has design specialists and can deliver etc...” Reinforce your credentials at the opening of the discussion and begin the process of talking about factors other than price. Use this to build a bridge into the fact-finding process.
3. Don’t let price be the only buying criteria
When your prospect is comparing several identical quotes, where the only distinguishing feature is the price, they will ask the question: "Why would I order from you when I can get the same job printed elsewhere for less?" Of course they won't; just think back to the number of times you've heard your prospects say, "Thanks for quoting, but your price is too high".
4. Find out what the other buying criteria are
Before quoting a job, ask your prospect probing questions to identify his wants and needs and then offer to show him a better way to achieve his objectives. When you know the specifications everyone wins. Your prospect is rewarded with new ideas that will help him reach his business goals, while you are given the opportunity to submit a quote that cannot be compared to your competitors by price alone. By understanding the specifications and buying criteria you are differentiating your services; you are no longer competing on price as the sole distinguishing factor, you can move beyond price and sell on value.
5. Ask the right questions
A monk who had just joined the monastery asked the Abbot for permission to smoke his pipe when he prayed. The Abbot responded by telling the new brother that he felt it was inappropriate and would have to refuse the request.
The brother went out to the courtyard only to see an old monk walking on the other side smoking a pipe. He quickly approached the old monk and told him that he was confused. "I asked for permission to smoke my pipe when I prayed and was not granted permission. Yet I see that somehow you got permission to smoke your pipe. Please tell me how you did it."
The older monk smiled as he pulled the pipe from his mouth and blew some smoke. "Well brother," he said slowly, "I asked the Abbot an entirely different question. I asked if it was permissible to pray when I smoked my pipe. He told me that any time was a good time for prayer."
A reminder about the importance of asking the right question; questions are at the core of a successful sales presentation, particularly when you need to move beyond price and sell on value. Here are three to consider:
- What criteria will you use to decide which printer you will select to provide services for your company?
- How would you know that a chosen provider or solution would meet those criteria?
- What would you need to know or see from us to know that our approach would fit with what you've got in place?
Understanding what your customer really wants means using questions to uncover and explore his requirem ents, his specifications and his buying criteria.
6. Sell your expertise and experience
There is a story of a rich socialite in Paris who needed a hat urgently for an important occasion. Her milliner arrived at her apartment and within 20 minutes had created an amazing and beautiful new hat from a single strand of ribbon.
The socialite was enthralled and asked the milliner the fee. The milliner replied: "1,000 Francs". The socialite gasped. "But that's so much money for a piece of ribbon!" The milliner unpinned the ribbon and handed it to her, "Madam the ribbon is free, it's the 'know-how' that you're paying for."
Remember the prospect is only concerned with “what’s in it for me?” so sell them your “know-how” by using benefits to illustrate what they will get, what the value is. Selling is about exciting the prospect, inspiring them and engaging them. Present your services with impact and enthusiasm.
7. Emphasise your guarantees
When customers look at competing businesses, they look for quality and value. And the most effective way to demonstrate quality and value is with iron-clad guarantees. Show the marketplace that your product or service is the best by standing behind it 100%. There’s no better way to attract customers than with an exciting guarantee.
8. Don’t cut prices
Or if you do, make it the abso lute last thing you do. When everyone’s worried about the economy, it’s tempting to lower prices. This may give you a temporary sales boost, but it may also lead you down the road to bankruptcy. Instead of selling low prices, sell value, quality and service.
9. Stay positive
One of the problems with all this talk about tough economic trading conditions is that once people believe there is going to be a double-dip recession they start to feel negative about their prospects. The nature of belief is such that people only tend to see what they believe rather than believing what they see. Once you believe that there is going to be a bad time ahead you tend to only notice articles, comments and statistics that support your beliefs.
What's more, your negative beliefs quickly affect your outlook and the way that you feel about your business prospects.
Having a positive and supportive belief structure is essential if you want to succeed in any market but it is vitally essential if you want to keep on selling in a tough one. When times are tough, companies will look to work with the best partners for their business; suppliers t hat they can rely on, suppliers that support them and suppliers who are going to be around tomorrow. By moving beyond price and selling on value that means more sales and more business for you.
Paul Streeter-Jewitt is the director of Paul Streeter Training Services. www.pstrainingservices.co.uk