You've done a stellar job managing the sales process with your client. You appear to have a good fit, and the client seems genuinely interested. She then says to you, "We love working with you, but the other vendor says they'll do the same thing for ten percent less. Can you beat that?"
What seemed like a good opportunity is now at risk of being a break-even deal. What can you do to shift the focus from price to value?
The Real Finish Line
In research with thousands of executives involved in the selling aspect of their business, I ask, "If you think of the buyer-seller interaction as a race, the starting block is the 'initial contact.' What do you call the finish line?" How would you answer that question?
Most of my audiences will say the sale, the contract, or getting paid. This mindset is dangerous - since this thinking conflicts with the client's interest.
Now, imagine you are the customer. If I asked you the same question, what would you call your finish line? After some thought, you'd probably conclude that the answer is results.
The Power of Focusing on Results
Too often sellers focus on the sale or contract. What if you instead focused on results? In additional research with over five thousand CEOs and executives on how they make and approve decisions, I've discovered a consistent pattern regardless of company size, geography, and culture.
The first question they ask is a combination of "What problem does it solve?" and "Why do we need it?" The second question, however, is "What are the likely results we will see?"
If you are focused on the sale and your client is focused on results, then you and your client are not aligned. While they are anxiously seeking the potential outcome, they may perceive you as only looking out for your own monetary gain - selling for the sake of selling.
Recognize that if your client believed that you had the solution to the challenge they felt was important to solve, and if they felt your solution delivered the best results, then they would be pushing you for the sale.
How to Use Results to Overcome Price
If you focus on results with your client, then you have an easy path to follow when they apply pricing pressure. You can say, "If we don't deliver the results that you need, then no matter what we charge, it's not a good deal, right? Can we ensure that together we know how we can measure the results six months and eighteen months from now?"
This simple approach quickly shifts the discussion to a mutual understanding of anticipated results. If your competitor is focused on the sale and you focus on results, then you will be seen in a different light than the competition.
If the client truly feels they can achieve better results with someone else for the same or less investment, then this was not the right opportunity for you.
Put This to Work
Focusing on results is not a Jedi mind trick meant to deceive. Rather, it is a sophisticated mind-shift that helps your client see that you have the same goal as they do.
If your client achieves great results, they will likely tell their friends. If they feel they wasted their money, they'll tell people they've never met. It is in your best interest as the seller to ensure that your client can measure the results of their investment with you.
Upon your next meeting with a potential client, simply ask, "Six months from now, how would we know if this was successful? We want to have some accountability." You'll see a dynamic shift in your conversation.
It's Your Turn
Have you experienced situations where a focus on results changed the nature of the discussion? Share your experience or questions in the comments.