Posts Tagged ‘value-based selling’

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“I Only Want the Toughest Customers…”

August 30, 2010

Asking for the toughest customers is like trying to pet a shark, or date a nun – you instantly know that it won’t end up well, so why ask for it? I was out to dinner last night with my friend, BigTime. Surprisingly, he let me know that he only wants the toughest customers. Say what–?

My friend is one of the best salespeople I know – he deals with an ultra-elite clientele in the Big Apple. This guy specializes in the demands of high-net-worth individuals with a skill that is both rare, and easygoing.

His customer logic goes like this: I want only the most difficult customers because, if they even think of shopping me with competitors, I will win every time. The toughest customers will chew up my competition, and disqualify them right out of the gate, because that’s the kind of service and solutions that my company can provide. He’s looking for the clients who are so tough and so demanding that other service providers get scared by their demands, and struggle to prove they can meet them. It’s not a problem for BigTime, and that’s the way he knows a qualified lead.

Also Big Time: Lincoln Center

Interesting perspective. We bounced the idea around some more, and I came away with some additional thoughts.

  1. If you are faced with a tough customer, thank them for helping you to be better. The best antidote for attitude is gratitude (apologies for the terrible rhyme, please judge my ideas – not my poems).
  2. If you are taking a beating over something you did, or your company did, or you are about to do, I have two words of advice: don’t duck.
  3. Here are six more: Face it, take it, fix it. It’s that simple.

Face up to the challenge of the difficult customer, and you will learn what it is that you need to know. For BigTime, he always looks forward to the toughest possible client as the greatest opportunity. He knows that he can offer what others cannot, that’s why he’s BigTime. A demanding client, in his business, means that the competition is out of the mix. The best way to defeat your competition is unequaled customer service. Disqualify your competition by being the one who doesn’t duck the tough stuff. When you resolve the really scary issues, you learn, you grow, and you create customers for life. The only way to know if you have what it takes, is to get started. If you’d like one suggestion on what you could do today, make up your mind to astonish the most difficult customer you know (and yes, the people you work with are internal customers). What can you do to make a difference, and show that when it comes to customer service, you are BigTime?

Difficult times show us what we are made of; difficult customers force us to be better and help our companies to demonstrate competitive advantage.

[ The names in this post have been changed to protect the guilty 😉 ]

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Overcoming Pricing Objections

April 17, 2010

My friend Ajay is taking a beating in India, over pricing. It seems that his clients are prejudiced: they always make the discussion about price. Here are some suggestions to help change the pricing game…

Look at your watch. (Did you do it? Thanks) Is that the least expensive watch on the market today? It isn’t? **What?** It’s not the cheapest you could find? I am [almost but not really] shocked. Why not buy an inexpensive watch – – when every watch tells you the time, shouldn’t you wear the cheapest one you can find?

Do you feel like you paid too much? Or maybe, you aren’t wearing a watch. So let’s apply this line of questioning to your cell phone…or your car…or your address…Here’s my point:

I don’t claim any expertise over the market in India, but I do know a lot about buyer behavior. The only antidote to prejudiced pricing discussions is value.

Why do you value your watch (cell phone, car, etc.)? Quality? Reliability? Or are there some intangibles – the way it makes you feel? The fact is that our personal purchases are driven by both fact and emotion. Which side wins can change depending on a number of factors, but both fact and emotion impact a purchase decision (any purchase decision). My question for you is: What is the _personality_ of the company you are selling into, and what are their emotional needs? (Are they heartless, cheap, and drive a hard bargain? OK, gotcha. So, What corporate needs are driving these descriptions?)

These needs may include prestige, quality, competitive advantage, profitability, a desire to make you squirm – – only you can fill in the blanks, I don’t have enough information to go further. But money – pricing – is only /part/ of the value equation. The other part is what a particular product _means_ to the company. Another way to say this: What is the value of your brand?

It may seem strange to think of a company’s emotional needs, but believe me: companies have personalities, whether in Kanpur, India or Kokomo, Indiana. Individuals run companies, individuals make buying decisions, individuals have emotional needs (as well as financial). While the budget may be fixed, my take on any discussion about pricing would include a thorough understanding of the puts/takes of the emotional appeal of your solution. If you say, “there is no emotional appeal to our solution” then I would respectfully reply, “you haven’t thought this all the way through”.

And for the record, you have a very nice watch! 😉