My favorite comic is Dilbert -- the hapless engineer, living his life as a corporate employee while every absurd business attitude plays out around him.
Recently the Dilbert comic took on sales. As Dilbert's irritating boss asked him to stop being honest when he goes on sales calls, Dilbert calls it what it is: "You want me to lie?" And the boss says he'd never ask Dilbert to lie: "I'm asking you to nod your head and smile while our salesperson lies."
Ugh. More perpetuation of the stereotype that salespeople will lie (and cheat and steal) -- anything to get your money.
The truth is pretty much the opposite. The best salespeople DON'T lie; they take the time to understand a person's circumstances, and honestly work to offer something that will make that situation better.
The art of selling is getting someone to:
- Focus on a problem they’re experiencing (and the “problem” may just be a vague feeling that they’re falling behind!).
- Then, we encourage them to think about what might solve that problem.
- Next, we help them to see you or what you have to offer as a possible solution.
- Finally, we guide them to see yours as the best solution, if indeed it is.
The price is important, but only in the context of what that investment will buy for this specific person.
Most people want to know, early on, "How much?" And we have to avoid talking about that until we understand the magnitude of the problem that we will fix.
I am regularly asked, "What does it cost to work with you?"
My response is, "To do what?"
Most people offer lots of different things or services so, depending on which product or service is selected, the investment will vary.
I often tell people if they can solve the problem themselves, they should do that. But if they've tried and tried -- or if time is of the essence -- they may want to work with someone like me, because I have a track record of always getting results. (Sometimes that's because, if the first thing I try doesn't work to fix their problem, I will change my approach until the problem is gone and, while I do that, there is no further investment in me).
I'm not the answer to every question. If there's a cheaper way to get things done right, do it! But my experience over 20 years is that, while I may not be hired right now, most people (80+%) who have taken the time to learn what I do and how I do it will eventually hire me.
So think about the most recent piece of business you lost: did those people understand you, and what you could actually do for them? If so, be at peace with their decision, and be sure to follow-up by sending them some information that may be of value to them twice over the next month.
If they did not understand what you could do for them, ask yourself why you got involved in talking about money (or producing a proposal) before that value was clear to them.
Final thought: sometimes WHAT you are offering is pretty much the same as what your competitors offer. But the only way your prospect gets to work with YOU is if they buy from YOU. For many products and services, the person they will be working with – YOU -- is the reason they will buy.
Because no matter what your competitor says, if you’ve done the selling well, your prospect trusts YOU to make the expected benefit happen!