Clark Howard is Not your Customer
I love Clark Howard. I’ve been following him for years. He gives consumers great advice and tips that can’t be found anyplace else. Apparently he’s also a great guy. Having said that, Clark is known as “America’s cheapskate”. He takes penny pinching to the extreme. There’s nothing wrong with that, unless you’re a salesperson trying to sell value.
The role of a professional salesperson is to provide solutions for their customer’s problems. The challenge is doing it while simultaneously looking out for the best interest of the company and the customer … providing value to the client while making a profit for the company. Often the best solution for the customer does not always have the lowest initial price tag. Cheap does not always work. You have to sell value.
Most customers are reasonable. They realize the true cost of buying products that don’t really work for them, or buying products that have to be replaced in a few months. That cost can be much more than paying a little extra for the right product the first time. A client of mine sold lawn mowers to commercial landscapers and municipalities. He told me that many of his customers had gone through several cheap mowers before they opted for a commercial grade machine. Eventually they would get tired of replacing cheap mowers that didn’t even last a season. They were spending more on repairs and down time than it would cost them to buy better equipment.
Some customers can be pretty anal. They take Clark Howard literally. They think they can buy the best product and get awesome service for the lowest price. It doesn’t work that way. There’s no free lunch. Fortunately there are not too many of them. Still, they can be irritating, and, if you’re not careful, can cost you time and money.
How does a professional salesperson handle the situation? It’s really not that difficult. You have to have a process and you have to stick to it. You also have to know your business, and have the ability to do simple ROI (return on investment) analysis with your customer.
Most of the time you won’t go wrong with a fundamental consultative selling system. There are many to pick from but the basic steps are similar:
- Agree on what will happen during, and at the end of the call.
- Get permission to ask questions so that you really understand what your customer is looking for.
- Have the customer acknowledge the problem (Pain) and the cost of that problem.
- Mutually agree on a solution that you can provide.
- Then, and only then, agree on the price. This should provide value to your customer and yield the margins that your company needs to be profitable.
- At this stage it’s either a win-win or it’s over.
No matter what you sell there will be someone who sells it cheaper. Or appear to sell it cheaper. In reality there will always be some difference. It could be the warranty, it could be delivery time or availability, or it could be service. Often the difference is you, and your credibility and expertise.
Several years ago I wanted to buy a popular photographic item from one of the photography stores in New York City. When I told the sales guy that his price was $100 higher than the competition, he answered: “I got it, they don’t got it. You want it or don’t you?” I bought the item and learned a valuable lesson in sales as well.
Clark Howard is great. Just don’t get suckered in by the buyers who take his lessons too literally. Don’t believe the promises of future business without a written purchase order. Quantity discounts are for volume purchases. It has to be a win-win deal today.
Oliver Connolly coaches and mentors sales managers and sales professionals. To talk about your challenges please call 1 561 480 0563 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Also for more information click on http://www.clevelstrategic.com