Hung, drawn, quartered, fed to the pigs, and then told to get back on the phone!
Is advising a client or prospect not to spend their money on something, when you think it’s not right for them a good idea?
The ‘one call’ close! This was heralded as the HOLY GRAIL of selling when I started out. Sat in a boiler room in Old Street, selling event sponsorship, it was drilled into us that when we pick up the phone we should start with one aim in mind – close a deal on the first call.
We were entertained with stories of how only a small elite group had ever achieved this – and to be fair – getting someone you have never spoken with before to, not only agree to spend £15k, but then actually commit legally by booking online (with no cool off period) is a big ask!
So brainwashed was I by my boss at the time, I made it my mission to achieve this elusive objective and I still remember the call to this day that it happened. I was gobsmacked that someone had actually agreed to part with their budget to a complete stranger in under an hour! I also thought (rather naively) that I had achieved the best type of sale there was!!
(Do you ever find you look back at your younger professional self and think - oh dear?)
The thing is, at the time, the company was over the moon with that kind of deal. Mainly because I was a junior phone basher and it was all about deals RIGHT NOW, not tomorrow, or the next day, and stuff building relationships! That was for someone much more qualified than me and even then, as a company we were much more focused on just getting deals done than exceeding client expectations and building long term partnerships. It explained why our repeat business rate was only 35% and the company in question is now struggling.
Back then, the very notion of turning a deal away for longer term gain would have had you hung, drawn, quartered, fed to the pigs, and then told to get back on the phone!
15 years on, and obviously, building long term relationships has been a much more successful tact (well, when the relationship is mutually beneficial, but that’s a different topic) and there are a number of ways to do this but it’s fair to say that if your client doesn’t think you have integrity, you don’t stand a chance!
There’s a situation I have encountered countless times in the past where a sales person I’m working with has asked me:
“So I’ve got this client, and they’re ready to spend £XX, but in my gut, I don’t think what we’re offering/have offered them is actually going to achieve their objective. In fact, I’ve thought about it, and don’t think we can offer them anything right now. What should I do?”
My answer is always the same: Be honest, tell them you think they could get better bang for their buck spending it on something else and, if you have an idea of what that could be, then tell them.
Ok, so no deal for you right now, but what you will have lost in that deal, you will have made up for 10 fold in relationship building.
I work everyday with senior buyers, teaching them how they are sold to, which gives me a unique insight into not just what they think, but how they feel about sales people. Sad to say their overall opinion of sales people is rarely positive. In the main they feel cautious of sellers and a distinct lack of trust.
So, in the simple act of advising them not to buy from you if the offering isn’t right, you are smashing through their protective cautionary barriers and dispelling the myths that all sales people are actually spawned from Beelzebub’s fiery loins!
The real benefit however, is the next time you go to them with an insight or proposition that you believe is right for them, they are a lot more likely to buy it from you.
The real truth is that, on the whole, the people who advise clients not to do a deal are the ones that have a strong enough pipeline to not be reliant on a single deal. More often than not the people I have seen do ‘bad’ deals aren’t necessarily dishonest people. They are panicked and desperate because they have become overly reliant on the deal h
So I’ll leave you with 2 thoughts.
Having great integrity will always make you more successful than being dishonest.
Never stop developing your pipeline.
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