20 Jul 2011 A buyer’s guide on how not to sell
I like and admire good sales people. I would even go so far as to say that I enjoy being sold to – when it’s done well. Taking the time to understand me and my situation, my objectives, my likes and dislikes. Adding value to the purchasing process by overlaying technical expertise to help me refine my requirements. Being respectful of the competition and respectful of the constraints on my purchasing process that at times can make me appear to be a difficult buyer. This is what I like. I’m a sucker for a good, professional sales pitch.
Which is why I was so disappointed recently to come across one of the worst sales pitches I have ever witnessed from a company – a software vendor in the P2P space – who really should have known better.
Anyone can lose a sale but if you want to go to the next step and not just lose a sale – but also lose any prospect of ever selling anything to me again, ever, follow this simple, 5 point guide on how not to sell.
1. Provide a boiler plate response to an RFP
There’s a lot to do in a day and developing bespoke responses to every customer just doesn’t make sense. Every customer is more or less the same so take an example of a successful sales pitch and just change the names at the top. Remember, you’re the expert – your prospect won’t know the difference.
2. Ensure you are selling to the right people
Buyers are generally quite junior people with little or no commercial acumen. Always make sure that you get to the top table before you begin to sell. Going over the heads of the buying team has it’s risks but you can always undermine them once you have the ear of the right people.
3. Be smart – go in with a high price
Everything is negotiable so always give yourself room to manoeuvre. When they ask for a price they know you will be prepared to move, so go for a high price to start then add some more.
4. Kill the competition
Don’t take any chances. You have to ensure that your prospect knows all of the weaknesses of your competition. When in doubt, attack their financial strength. With a look of dread say “Have you seen their latest numbers?” Then shake you head and mutter “dear oh dear …”. Just leave it at that. It will get your point across perfectly.
5. When you lose – don’t take it lying down
There’s always a second chance. If you don’t win first time, go for the jugular – point out the lack of professionalism in their procurement process. Demand a recount. Explain that they don’t know what they doing. Threaten to sue. Anything it takes – just don’t take it lying down.