BY BILL FAETH
Every week, it seems like an array of operators ask the same question: “Everyone wants the lowest price. How do I compete and still make money?”
The answer? Create value for your buyer.
But it is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to do that if your buyer does not define what value it is they’re seeking. If you try to guess what is most important to them, you may end up tanking your meeting instead.
This is where my Golden Sales Question comes in. It goes something like this: “If I am fortunate enough to earn your business today, and we’re sitting here 12 months from now conducting an annual review, what would a successful relationship look like in your eyes?”
When you ask this question, it triggers a psychological change in the way the prospect views the sales process—and then your potential buyer will define their value and tailor your sales pitch to their biggest needs.
First of all, you are showing your prospect that you are vested in their interests by putting their needs first and thinking long term.
You have also asked for the opportunity to earn their business. To initiate the psychological shift of using the keywords “earn” and “successful,” you must subtly emphasize them so they stand out. These two words are what your prospect will remember.
Further, you have clearly stated that you are willing to work to earn their business. You are not expecting to have business handed over to you but are, instead, proving that you intend to work hard to provide exemplary customer service and value with every interaction throughout your relationship.
If I am fortunate enough to earn your business today, and we’re sitting here 12 months from now conducting an annual review, what would a successful relationship look like in your eyes?"
And finally, you have emphasized that you want to invest in a long-term relationship by providing solutions to their problems without even asking your prospect to define their specific problems. This puts you in a position to address concerns and deliver value without showing disrespect for their current providers (your competition).
This question turns the conversation from a sales pitch into an investment, effectively sidestepping the sometimes-negative connotations associated with a sales call. Now, more often than not, your prospect is willing to divulge their issues with their current transportation provider, which opens the door for you to understand how they define value.
The next 30-60 seconds are critical.
You have asked the Golden Sales Question, but now you have to use empathy: Simply put, you need to shut up and listen. The number-one trait of every great salesperson is knowing when to be quiet. Sit back and wait for your prospect to share their issues, pain points, and problem they need or want you to solve for them based on their previous experiences.
Take notes, as you will have to solve these problems to win their business. Once your prospect is finished, you can then outline how you can best enhance their transportation experience.
If price is an objection, you need to answer this question last. The key element here is two-fold. One, you want to ensure you are providing value first in the solutions to their problems, as this will build up their confidence in your company. Two, because your pricing may be higher than your competitors’, you should hold the pricing discussion until the end and focus on value-based answers first.
If your prospect is hyper-focused on low-cost pricing that doesn’t match your rate structure or profit-margin integrity, that is fine. You have identified that this prospect is not worth investing any more time into during the sales process. Kindly thank them and inform them that you are not the right solution for their transportation needs. Be willing to walk away.
More often than not, if you have succeeded in answering their objections and demonstrating value based on their concerns, they will both want your service and will be willing to invest more with your company than the lower-priced solution that cannot provide your services.
At the start of every sales call or meeting, ask the Golden Sales Question. Getting the information you need right up front will accelerate your sales cycle and provide you with everything you need to stop selling on price and start selling on value. [CD0317]