There is a disturbing trend I’ve heard with the companies I’m working with. And it starts when prospects begin asking for a lower price or a “deal,” or for a reference before committing, or for a free trial to demo services or products.
The problem I’m hearing is that sales reps-both newer reps and even some seasoned reps-immediately drop the price or offer a trial, or readily hand out references thinking that this is what will close the sale.
If you’ve done this yourself, then you know all too well the sickening feeling of “giving away the store” only to have the prospect then refuse to do business with you. It’s not an effective sales strategy…
The answer is to learn the fine art of negotiating. In a nutshell, the basic point of negotiating is that you both have something the other party wants, so you give to get. And this is the problem for most sales reps: they just give away things (like a free trial or lower price) without getting anything in return.
Here’s how to change that. Let’s do a quick role play:
Prospect: “Do you offer a free trial?”
Rep: “We generally don’t offer a ‘free’ trial, but there are some options I may be able to offer in terms of a free month at the beginning of your contract with us. I’d have to speak to my director about this.
“Before I do, I know he’ll want to know that you’re set and ready to go before we put together something. So let me ask you… “
Now qualify for budget, timeframe, and start date before you offer that free trial.
Prospect: “That price is too high. Can we buy half a position to try it out?”
Rep: “That’s something I’d need to get approval on. Just out of curiosity, if I did take this to my director and he approved it, would you be ready to give us the go ahead and begin service today?”
Here again is the basis of negotiation. You never give away a free trial nor do you drop the price without first getting something from your prospect in return. In this case, a commitment.
If they say they are willing to commit, then you can get the approval from your manager. If they say they still need to think about it, it’s up to you to keep closing and isolate the real objection.
Prospect: “I need a reference.”
Rep: “I’d be happy to provide you with one. Before I do, however, I want to make sure that if, after speaking with them, you’re then ready to begin working with us. As you can imagine, all our clients-like yourself-are busy and don’t want to be bothered with people taking their time if they aren’t sold on our solution.
“So let me ask you this: What price point are you ready to commit to if the reference works out?
“And how about a start date?” etc.
Again, you must get something from your prospect before you give something to them. This is negotiation.
There are many advantages of working your close this way, but the biggest one is verifying that you’re dealing with a buyer and not someone who is just a ‘maybe.’ You know as well as I do that those “so-so” leads almost never buy and by giving in to them, you’re getting weaker and weaker as a sales rep.
So try the techniques above and start negotiating rather than giving control of your sale away.
You’ll close more sales and feel better about yourself!