By Tibor Shanto – firstname.lastname@example.org
If sales were presented as a play, the typical flow would seem to be: segment, identify, qualify, engage, discovery, gain commitment, negotiate and close. Somewhere towards the latter part of “gain commitment” and “negotiate”, the issue of price becomes central to the plot, in fact with some sellers “negotiate” is really just a code word for “price haggling”. This would explain why so many sales these days are won or lost on price, especially when “discovery” is rushed or executed in a cookie-cutter way.
The plan (I guess), is build value (place your methodology here, ours is good too), and align to price. The frustration for many is that they may not know the relative role of price till late in the game, especially when there is a low cost provider in the mix. Wouldn’t it be better if you could learn if price will be the breaking factor much earlier in the play?
That’s the catch 22 of selling I guess, if you don’t build value you can’t justify or rationalize the price; on the other hand, you could spend time and energy building value and be defeated by price. What’s a seller to do?
Well, why not lead with price?
Counter-intuitive, maybe? Risky? Could be, but most things worth archiving involve a level of risk. The opportunity and skill is in managing the risk and finding the balance where calculated risk consistently rewards the risk taker.
This is not to say that your meetings should start:
“Hi I am George, with ACME Solutions, the price is $42,000, plus 20% annual maintenance fee, ready to go?”
But there may be merit to putting price front and centre much earlier in the process. There is an element of this accepted, if not always executed, by many sellers in the form of exploring budget; in terms of its existence, availability, control and commitment. But budget is different than price, how many times have you been able to check all the tick marks around budget but still lose on price?
But what if we did introduce process earlier? The reality in many instances, the price is based on some formula, be it unit based or other elements, and sellers have a sense of what a deal is worth early in the play. Before you protest the last statement in an effort to seem above the fray, go look at yours or any other forecast. So why not put it on the table, and make it a way of introducing, driving and accelerating the value discussion. After all, if they object to the price at that point you can get to the heart of the matter by asking them what they base their remarks on. It is a great way to go to the real value discussion. As both price and value are relative, you can find out what they see as value in their reaction to the price.
You can then use all the tools and techniques you would normally use to build value, but this time it can be much more collaborative. The key is not think of it as defending the price, but as a mutual and collaborative value definition. In the course of executing it, you can uncover objectives, separate needs from wants and a range of other things that make for a successful sale. All without the suspense of the traditional ending.
As with most things in sales, we can stick to the same old, or so called fresh techniques that are the same old in new packaging. Or you can try something that will not only differentiate you, the way you sell, and most importantly the outcome.
What’s in Your Pipeline?