Each time a salesperson makes prospect calls, the prospects are either consciously or subconsciously asking themselves four questions. If you can answer each of these four questions to the prospects’ satisfaction, odds are that you will earn a share of the prospects’ business at an acceptable gross margin. Fail, and price will usually become the dominant factor.
Understand, however, that you’re unlikely to ever hear prospects actually verbalize these questions. Why?
Because most prospects respond poorly to change, so until they become extremely unhappy with their current source of supply, they will usually put up with a lot before they’re willing to actually make a change. So to speed up the conversion process, you must over the course of the selling process answer these questions whether the prospect asks them or not.
1. What can you do to improve my bottom line?
Helping a prospect become more successful, solve a pressing business problem, or make more money is the single most effective way to earn a share of the prospect’s business. If you can do this well, you’ll earn the lion’s share.
To accomplish this, salespeople must develop their business acumen to the point that they almost know more about their prospects’ business than the prospect knows. Each month, read each of the trade magazines your prospects read, remove key articles and file by category. Used correctly, these articles can become an incredible marketing resource.
Interview super-successful customers and find out what their keys to success are. Before you know it, you’ll become thought of as an expert. This is what consultative selling is all about. Don’t be too timid to ask probing interview questions. Remember this old saying: Timid Salespeople Have Skinny Kids.
2. How do your company’s services exceed those of my current supplier?
To answer this question, you must research your competitors so thoroughly that you can prove to your prospects that your company’s services can help them improve sales, raise gross margin, lower costs of doing business, save time, etc.?
And try to NEVER use the word service in the course of the selling process unless you mention a specific service. Why? Because virtually 100% of all salespeople have told your prospect that their company provides excellent “service,” so you must be specific to successfully differentiate your advantage.
3. What can you personally do for me that the salesperson who is currently servicing my account either cannot do or does not do?
If your individual skills, personal services, and/or business acumen are superior to what your prospects are receiving from their existing salesperson, you have a distinct advantage. Research the individual salesperson you’re up against so thoroughly that you are able to discover your personal advantages.
4. What’s in it for me?
This is the ultimate question all customers and prospects ask themselves before they switch sources of supply. Just about everyone operates in a highly competitive marketplace. Few customers and prospects are as astute at business as they are at performing their craft, so they are all looking for a competitive edge. So what’s in it for your prospects when they do business with you?
Again, be as specific as you possibly can. Think this question through. If you can’t articulate specifically why your prospects will be in some way better off doing business with you and your company than doing business with your competitor, odds are that they won’t change.
Answer these four questions effectively and I believe you will find that the competitiveness of your prices will become far less important than it is currently.
About the Author
Author Bill Lee has nearly 40 years of experience in the construction supply industry. A seminar leader and consultant, he is the author of two books: Gross Margin and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot. You can reach Bill at BLee3Paris@aol.com, www.BillLeeOnLine.com, or 800.277.7888.Follow on Twitter More Content by Bill Lee