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How to win the prospect’s favorable attention

You don’t earn the long-term benefits of bringing in a new customer by leading with price. If you do, your image will be that of a nonprofessional. Salespeople who are insecure about either themselves or the products they sell know little else to do but to use low-ball pricing as a prospecting tool.

Prospects have the highest attraction to salespeople who reek of professionalism, salespeople who have more value to offer than the salesperson they are presently buying from. Salespeople who have acquired the kind of value I’m talking about are difficult to say no to because they are so rare.

So the first step for a salesperson who wishes to take customers away from the competition is to acquire some knowledge the prospect will perceive to be of value. Take the two strategies below as examples:

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  1. Take photographs of one or more ongoing problems the contractor is experiencing and may even be unaware of, i.e., excess material on the jobsite after that phase of the construction process is complete.
  2. If your competitor’s driver dumps the material in a mud hole, snap a photograph. Next, snap a photograph of one of your deliveries where the material is stacked neatly around the jobsite and use the comparison to illustrate the extra value your company offers.

Ask for a short meeting. Offer evidence to the contractor—such as photos—and then explain how your company prevents excess, wasted, or damaged material on your customers’ jobsites. Again, evidence is helpful: photos or multiple copies of reference letters you have received from current customers, etc.

Wait to quote. Unless the prospect asks for pricing, resist the temptation to quote prematurely. Try to avoid quoting a prospect until you believe the prospect is willing to at least consider making a change. You don’t want to appear overly anxious, so relax and let nature take its course. When you quote prematurely, you are also inviting a price negotiation. Rarely is the timing right to get into a pricing discussion on the first call.

Look for opportunity. Keep your eyes open for subtle signs that the prospect’s present supplier may be dropping the ball. For example, if you see foam sheathing in the same holes in the wall where two special order windows should be at the current stage of construction, odds are the contractor’s salesperson somehow failed to get the special order windows on order in time to receive them when they were promised.

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I believe it’s important to remember that while you may be in desperate need of a new customer, your prospect is concerned about what they needs, not about what you need, so resist letting on how badly you need an order. If you’re starving to death, keep it to yourself.

Your prospect needs for their jobs to progress smoothly, and they need a supplier salesperson who can make their life easier and make sure material is on the job on time. If you keep your eyes open, you can spot opportunities to get your foot in the door.

When either you or your prospect decide that the timing is right to discuss price, be prepared to explain why you are quoting the specific brand names or products on your quote. And when it’s time to offer the price, the words I recommend you use are: “The price is $____.” Have resolve in your voice when you quote your price.

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Remember to keep your prospect’s needs uppermost in your mind. Talk with the prospect’s subs to learn where your competitor is dropping the ball. Scrutinize your prospect’s jobsites thoroughly and you’re bound to spot opportunities to improve on the job your competitors are doing.

Salespeople who live by the sword, die by the sword. The same is true for salespeople who believe they have to have the lowest price.

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