Here’s a short story about two appointments I had later in the day. Well, not really appointments but rather stop-ins with two existing accounts. One of those accounts was a net new from three months ago, where we were able to place a new wide format unit. The other was a seasoned account that had informed me months ago that he was interested in upgrading to a faster system for printing and scanning. Up until about a week ago, I didn’t have a system that was available that I felt comfortable in selling.
My first stop was with the net new wide format client. Low and behold, my decision maker was there. For the first 20 minutes, there was no mention of what I wanted to offer. I started with asking questions about the recent festival his church had last week: How was the attendance, how good the food was (I was there), who won the giant 50/50, and if they had started planning for next year’s festival. As he was speaking, and I was listening, I found myself thinking about how down to earth my client was and how comfortable we were with each other.
After 20 minutes or so, I told the story about two MFP devices that we have coming off lease and reminded him that he did want to retire one of his older devices and acquire another MFP. I gave my client all of the details. When he stated, “I need to run this past my son,” I replied, “That’s fine, when should I get back to you?” We agreed that Monday of next week would be best.
There was no heavy close, no mention that I need to move this now, nor was there a discussion about the price that I proposed. My gut feeling tells me that once Monday rolls around, I’ll have this order.
My second stop in was about five miles away with my seasoned account. Another small bonus was in store for me, because my decision maker was there. This second stop-in was much like the first because I made it a point to find out how business was, and that I did not see him at the same church festival. My client stated that he was there, however, he was stuck in one of the food tents for most of the weekend.
Overcoming Price Objections
Now, over the years, this second client was always fixated on price. It always came down to, “come on can’t you do a little better?” Since I knew this in advance, I had pre-planned my pricing to show him that I was offering the pre-owned system at an excellent value. But before we could even get to that, I found myself listening intently to a story he was telling me about how Larry (a former employee of his) had hooked up with another company just a few days ago. While I was listening, I was also thinking about how comfortable we were with our non-business conversation. My client then asked, “OK, what do you have for me?” I explained the offer for the same device that I had pitched to my first stop-in and then went through my validation of how I arrived at my price. Within a few minutes, my client stated that he wanted the device for the price I proposed. I’ll be back there tomorrow with the paperwork. Here, too, there was no close, nor any asking for the order.
While driving home, I had time to think about both of those stop-ins. I asked myself, why did both go so well? For starters, I think it was the time that I took to attend their church festival with my wife. In addition, we had commonality with each other. My clients knew each other and I made it a point to tell each of them that I was also meeting with the other client.
For my second stop-in, we had a relationship that goes back at least 8-10 years. I had knocked on his door many years and had built a relationship outside of work. My first stop-in was also a door knocker that I had performed about three months ago. When we first met, I made a point of mentioning who we do business with. It’s a small world out there and the more you dig, the more you find out that they know the same people you know.
There’s no secret sales stuff here, none of that LinkedIn social BS, it’s just plain old relationship building that we sales people have been doing forever. A knock here, a call there, do you know so and so, and before you know it, the relationship comes organically.