I recently received the following question that, while many in sales will easily relate to, they probably won’t like my answer:
Hi Bob, I work as sales account manager for a large organization focusing mainly on B2B (Business-to-Business).
My question is, I am closing my year end in another 30 days and I know one of my customers is planning to buy my products but his planned purchase is 90 days away. If I can close this order within 30 days, I will be able to meet my target for the year. This is very critical for me in terms of my salary.
Please help me if you have any suggestions.
Thank you for your question and — as a fellow salesperson — I can absolutely “feel your pain.” Basically, though, as critical as the order being placed within 30 days might be to your personal income, it’s even more critical that you understand the following:
Your customer doesn’t care.
He is not at all concerned about your quota or deadline. More importantly, he is not going to change his buying decision (from 90 to 30 days) because it’s better for YOU.
He’s only going to do it if somehow you can make it better for HIM.
So, the question is, what can you do to make it more advantageous for him to buy within 30 days rather than 90 days?
That, right there, is the question. And, it’s the only question that matters.
How would his making the purchase within 30 days improve his busines?…His life?…His situation?
If you can come up with the correct answer and then effectively communicate it to him, then it can happen.
Remember, selling it isn’t about you and your needs; it’s about him and his needs.
Best of success!
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I once had a salesperson ask me to buy something I had told him over and over I didn’t need right now and he said he would lose his job if I didn’t buy it. That was the quickest way to lose me as a customer. The second I hear desperation I know my best interests are not being met and it is all about the salesperson’s money. So in this game of Jeopardy the question is: What is the fastest way to motivate a client to buy from you?
Christie: I love what you said. And, indeed, I’ve had salespeople ask me to buy because it would help them win a contest, a trip, etc. I’ll never buy when that is the case because – in my opinion – it sends the wrong message to that person. Actually, even when a youngster comes by to sell me something in order to raise money for their school, or a cause or whatever, I always feel the need to tell them that I will *not* buy for that reason, but only if I want what they are offering and if it’s of value to me. They then must sell me on the benefits and why it is in my best interest to buy. Of course, they always are able to do this successfully ;-), but they have hopefully learned something about selling, the importance of providing value, focusing on their prospect, and understanding that the world (and, especially business) is not about them.
So very true, Bob. I think it could be the root of many an unsuccessful salesperson.
I’ve seen some networking marketing companies that have been spectacular failures because they were teaching their new recruits to ask their friends to “help me out” by signing up for the service. Sorry, but once your mom and grandma take pity on you, no one else is going to do it. Oh sure, there was a potential small savings, but that wasn’t how it was presented.
I could see telling someone that they are helping you build a business or make a goal loooonnng after you’ve shown them that the product is great for them. It would add to my pleasure in the service IF I had a cordial, on-going relationship with the salesperson.
For example, I referred someone to a friend who has a product that I love. She let me know immediately that they become customers (and thanked me nicely). I found out months later that they were a huge boon to her business and that made me really happy. But it would have been annoying or off-putting if she asked me to refer people because she needed a bonus.
Beth: So true. I agree with you all the way! (Come to think about it, I usually do agree with you all the way, don’t I?) 🙂 P.S. Yes, asking someone to buy in order to “help me out” is a definite *groaner*. It’s embarrassing to even think of that.
Wow! Awesome topic and I loved the comments from Christie and Beth that adds so much value to the post.
Bob, though it depends on case to case basis whether or not I buy when a salesman or a kid approaches me to buy with the approach that says, “there is cause behind my purchase”.
Sometimes I decline to purchase like Christie said. However, on other occasions, I do buy and then take time to educate the person selling that the approach is inappropriate. In fact, I go to local Toastmasters group and I had a similar situation when one of my fellow Toastmasters brought his son to the club for fund raising and I made the father and the son both sit and exercise selling the idea to me. I am glad they both did and I donated 20 dollars to that kid.
Sometimes its lack of education and on other occasions, I believe it’s the desperation that causes people to do so and as entrepreneurs, we must continuously be aware about adding value to others through the process. That is the best way to have a win-win sale.
This is so true (all about them). And good point to remember is it “genuinely” has to be more advantageous now than later not something one makes up to close the deal. You have to deliver the advantage later or next year you will lose the customer as well as miss the quota.
Bob – I think that this extends to asking for referrals too. A lot of people coach that you should push people to give referrals without consideration for that “What will it do for me/Will this make me look good?” question that frames the decision. Please note the difference between asking/suggesting and pushing-begging-pleading.
Love this article (as usual, ha, ha)
Bob, your answer is right on the money in my opinion – at least in most cases.
Exceptions would be quite rare but to me it depends on the relationship that exists between the salesperson and the client. If it is merely a somewhat superficial connection between two people that do business together on occasion, then it’s totally out of line to ask for an early purchase.
There will be situations, however, where the relationship is longer term, ongoing and one of mutual ‘know, like and trust’. If that’s the case I believe having an open discussion to explore IF an early purchase is an option – without negatively impacting the buyer – would be very much in order.
Kumar: Great thoughts and points!
Doug: Yes, indeed!!
Kathryn: Terrific points. To the degree you frame it for their benefit, that’s the degree they will feel good about it. And, that only makes sense. 🙂 Thank you for your always-kind words, my friend!
Bill: Yes, the context is always important. I almost added one of those, “unless your customer is a family member who loves you dearly and will do anything just for the sake of helping you” but then I would have had to have added, “but, in that case, you wouldn’t be writing me with the question.” LOL. Of course, you are correct; there are circumstances that would provide a different outcome than the norm. I should have framed it with, “all things being equal” 😉
Great thought provoking post as always. My first reaction was unless this salesperson is cashing in on such a large sale that he/she will be able to retire, than the “I really need this because” pitch is really short sighted. The goal in sales is repeat business and referrals, not one time gimicks that will generate a one time pity sale.
I can certainly appreciate this dilemma. However, in my opinion, sales in it’s simplest form is about “finding out what the client wants, needs or values ” and engineering a way to deliver it them. I think one’s credibility is at risk whenever the sale is about what the sales professional needs.
Denis: 🙂 I don’t think he was planning on going with that, but rather asking me for advice on what to do. But, yes, you are correct. Of course, if there is a legitimate reason for the customer to buy within the 30 days rather than the 90 that will truly benefit him, then that’s fine. But it must be because it is in *his* benefit, not the salesperson’s.
Jancie: Indeed, I think we are all pretty much in agreement. Thanks for sharing!
As usual – GREAT advice!
The hidden lesson in there for me is to practice the art of making great questions! Everybody is looking for answers but it’s worthless IF you’re not asking the right question (i.e. the one that will lead you to where you want to be)!
I believe that in this self-focused World, those who can shift their focus to others so they can SEE how they can serve them better than everyone else… those are the ones, like Zig Ziglar used to say, that “will get anything they want from Life” because they dedicated their lives “helping others get what they want first”!
Thank you Bob for sharing such an important lesson!
Bruno: Thank you. As always, you provide terrific and very helpful wisdom! Correct focus, and correct questions, are very key!
The answer IS IN THE QUESTION or PROBLEM! But from the wrong viewpoint, as you also point out Bob!!!!!!
YOU HAVE TO want the sale for the benefit of the customer – not for your sales statistic I have a nickname for that – STAT-PUSH – And I absolutely HATE it!!!! – LOL – Sometimes you feel it even before you have answered the phone, you get THAT MESSAGE just from the ringtone or even before 🙂 Forget ANY sale if you are STUCK in the Stat-viewpoint 😀
Lot’s of hugs from Denmark
Lene: Thank you, my friend. Hugs to all “Denmarkians!”
Absolutely… He was so Focused on SELF he forgot who actually Pays his bills if you will…
If he Thought about the people he was serving he would realize like you said HOW can I make their Lives better and or HOW can I serve and from that place he could find a solution to his situation…
LOL – Thank’s Bob 😀
Carly: Great points. Thank you!