Imagine this scenario:
You are one of five sales reps sitting in a conference room, each representing a different company. A customer walks in and hands each of you a large envelope containing a printed sample of an existing document they currently purchase. With it is a cover letter containing the specifications.
After you have all had a chance to review the document, you are told the obvious, that this is a bid that will be awarded in a week’s time. “Go sharpen your pencils and do your best,” the client instructs.
And with that, four of the sales reps stand and exit the room, leaving only you and a confused customer.
“Why are you still here? Was there something you did not understand?”
Stop! Everyone freeze!
Right now, you are in a price-based situation, one where the only way you will win is by shaving as much profit from the job as possible and one that will continue to be price-based on the reorder.
What you’d prefer is the situation where you are selling on the basis of an idea you came up with; something that either lowers the usage cost of the document or increases its value.
The challenge is getting there.
In order to get away from price, you need to understand the story behind that printed piece. This involves asking questions that uncover how it is used, its purpose, and basically everything that happens to it from the moment it arrives in Receiving to the moment it ships out with the product or is discarded.
In addition, you need to know about the purchasing chain of command. This customer is a Buyer, but who requisitioned it? Who designed it? In other words, who “owns” it?
The process of asking qualifying questions is an important sales skill. If you’ve never done it before, start a list of the kinds of things you’d like to know. Review that list each time you go into see a customer. And finally, add to that list with any new questions you come up with.
The difference between winning a bid earning an order is monumental. There’s a difference in profit, customer loyalty, and customer retention and all because you stayed behind and peppered the client with a series of questions.
Start asking …
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