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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

When it's an apples-to-apples comparison between your product or service and your competitor's, who gets the business? Does the prospect award the sale to the company with the “best” selling process? Do they reward the salesperson who asked the most thought-provoking questions, most cleverly handled objections, and methodically progressed through the development process in a recognizable step-by-step manner?

Of course not.

Prospects don't really care about your selling process or how astutely you implemented it. They are much more interested in and ultimately influenced, positively or negatively, by the person with whom they are doing business—YOU.

Also, customers are most comfortable with and award the most business to salespeople who bring the most to the relationship even when it's not an apples-to-apples situation.

So, what differentiates the salespeople who consistently generate positive influence—and obtain the most business—from those who don't? What exactly do they bring to the relationship that makes customers comfortable?


  • They are honest and open. They demonstrate a sincere concern for their customers and act fairly and consistently. They don't make promises they can't keep. And, when they make commitments, they follow through to the end. 

  • They are optimistic. They don't complain about the state of the economy, their competitors, or their company's policies. They feel good about themselves and the future. 

  • They are confident. They possess and continually demonstrate a “can do” attitude. They see opportunity when others see roadblocks. 

  • They are decisive and action oriented. They analyze situations, weigh the facts, and then take action. Procrastination plays no role in their behavior.

If you want to improve the results of your selling efforts, first look to improving yourself before you look to improving your process.

Who Cares About Dielectric Heating Technology?

Imagine going to a store with the intention of buying a microwave oven. When you tell the salesperson what you‟re looking for, rather than escort you to the microwave oven display in the small appliances section, he responds, “We don't sell microwave ovens…we sell „quick and convenient cooking‟ utilizing the latest advances in dielectric heating technology.” He continues, “Let‟s talk a little bit about your cooking habits—the types of foods you regularly cook and any special considerations or requests you have.”

“Can't you just show me what you have?” you ask.

“In due time,” he responds, and continues, “It would be helpful if you could describe your previous microwave oven experiences and the intended outcomes you'd like to achieve with a new oven. Then, I can put together a preliminary proposal and discuss your options. Once we identify the most appropriate model, I'll be happy to describe its functionality in detail.”

Do you leave the store with a microwave oven, or do you leave the store wondering what “medication” the salesperson is taking?

OK, the example may be a bit farfetched. A microwave oven, after all, is a tangible item. There are rows of them on display. You can see them, touch them, press the buttons on their control panels, and open and close their doors. You can read the list of features on the colorful data sheets affixed to the side of each oven. You can literally get your hands around one and carry it out of the store if you decide to purchase it.

And that's the point. Prospects want to see what they are buying…before they buy it. They want to be able to “get their hands around it,” if not literally, then figuratively.

But, what if you sell an intangible…a service? How do you “display” an intangible that a prospect can't see or touch? How do they get their hands around it?

You can make your service more tangible by putting a “package” around it so your prospects have something to see and touch. The package doesn't have to be elaborate. It can be a single page, a few pages, or a brochure that describes in general terms—even bullet points—your service from the perspective of the most common problems it helps one solve, the most frequent difficulties it helps one avoid, and the typical goals it enables one to achieve. It should also include a brief description of the manner in which your service is implemented. The “packaging” gives your service form and function. It provides a platform from which to begin a discussion about the prospect‟s problems, difficulties, and goals.

If you can make your service more tangible—more “visible” and more measurable—prospects will be able to “see” what they are getting; it will be less confusing; they will be more comfortable discussing their needs; and they will make decisions more quickly.

What Do You Do When Prospects Want it All?

When considering the purchase of products or services, there is an inextricable connection between quality, price, and time. For instance, if you want a quality product delivered in a timely manner (or the benefits of the product to be realized quickly), then you must be willing to pay the price which may include time, money, and effort. If you‟re not willing, you can opt to adjust one or both of the other elements—a lesser quality product (which may mean fewer features) or perhaps, a longer delivery time. Logically, that makes sense—everything remains in balance.

But, prospects typically don't act logically. They want it all—quality products delivered in a timely manner—even when they're not willing to pay the price.

So, what do you do to avoid the inevitable “price” negotiation?

Refrain from discussing the specifics of your product or the details regarding the implementation of your service (except, perhaps in general terms) until after you've fully defined the scope of the prospect's problem, needs, or goals and the investments they are willing and able to make. Then, you can make any needed “adjustments” to keep the “quality” and “time” elements of your offering in line with “price.” You might even hold back one or two “added value” elements to “put on the table” and support your price if (and most likely, when) the prospect pushes for a lower price.

 

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