Preparation over Price

As a sales person and someone who has managed a sales team, I always get frustrated when I hear the words, “You need to cut your price. Your competitor is lower than you.” The first thing you should always do as a sincere salesperson is make sure your intentions and expectations are clearly articulated to a customer. This act should, over time, give you credibility. This credibility should, over time, allow you to have a conversation about price. Don’t get me wrong or be confused about the message on price. Price is a factor; no one will pay more for the same product because he likes Kelly, the sales guy.

I want you to explore the idea that price shouldn’t be the determining factor in getting an order. If you do the hard work and prepare for a meeting, a bid, or a proposal, you can win a customer over, and you may even get paid more. If you listen to your customers’ needs and can solve their problems that your competitors can’t, that will be worth a price differential. If you can provide better quality than your competitor and know that the consumer needs better quality, you can garnish a better price. If you can deliver faster than your competitor, you can get a better price.

The important point is that to discover those things that can get you a better price, you must start with preparing the foundation of credibility and trust. Get to know your customer and be sincere in your sales approach. If a customer can’t trust you, they won’t open up to you and guide you to the items that mean more to them than the price. Say you are bidding on a construction job to build a new office building. There is a bonus for the General Contractor of your customer for finishing the project ahead of schedule. If a customer trusts you, they will share this information with you, and now you know that schedule is everything for a project. So even if your bid is a little higher, but you can commit to a time frame that gets the general contractor that bonus, you can get the job.

How does this apply in management? Well, a couple of ways. First, if you are dealing with suppliers, how can you get more out of a supplier than just price. If you prepare yourself by understanding your own concerns and sincerely sharing them with your supplier who likely can address your concerns and meet the cost. When dealing with employees, this is also an opportunity; if you can clearly articulate your expectations to an employee, they can prepare better and be judged on more than their output—showing that a company’s culture and overall success are not just about production from your employees but also their various significant contribution.

I was hoping you could think about the bid you are about to present to a customer this week. Think about what else you can offer that customer that isn’t just about price that might make the difference to them if you can’t think of anything that is a sign that you haven’t prepared enough. Call the customer, ask them some questions, and find out what will be the difference-maker for them in selecting your product or service over any others. If you like what you hear and want to learn more about sincere sales and enthusiastic leadership, follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to this blog.

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