I received an encouraging phone call from a client this morning who had been struggling for most of his business life with a challenge that plagues many (if not most) small business owners.
Though his product is excellent, and there is clearly a demand for it in the marketplace, his success ratio for capturing more profitable business was dismal. I could hear between the lines of our conversations his frustration with customers who “just didn’t get it.”
As we talked through the issue, it was clear that the real problem was his perception of the sales process – a common mistake that costs much more than just lost profits.
Without a healthy “customer-centric” perspective, precious time and energy are wasted, sales are lost, and both sides lose. As I listened to him, I wondered just how much had been left on the bargaining table over the years and what that could represent as cash in the bank and security at this point in his career.
Truth is, we’re surrounded by opportunities for new business almost every day, yet more often than not we fail to capture any of it. Why? Two reasons jump out of this example:
1) Lack of confidence
This business owner had an opportunity to upsell an $18,000 change order. He complained to me that the customer rejected the price saying that he knew construction costs and was prepared to go ahead with the change but pay only $12,000.
The fact that this owner was coming to me with his dilemma was clear proof that he wasn’t prepared to fight for the profit he knew he deserved. He was afraid to lose the sale and as a result, his real question was “how much should I compromise?”
Most business owners I know have the same mindset. We don’t know how to sell well because we’ve never learned how to overcome the fear of not selling. In return, that leaves our confidence shaken and reduces our effectiveness as salespeople. That was certainly true in this case. We pay a steep price though when compelled by fear and/or lack of confidence.
Think of it this way—are you playing to win or playing not to lose? Playing not to lose is a zero sum game – there’s never anything to celebrate, and every transaction hinges on winning at the expense of the other party.
Three key thought processes will serve us well here in order to gain real, profit-producing breakthroughs:
- Own your numbers: know what you’re worth and commit to never compromising! So much is left on the table when we neglect the necessity of digging in and pounding through the process of learning how to do business by the numbers. Without a firm commitment to knowing and defending your numbers, it’s next to impossible to deliver the value customers deserve and demand. If you need help call us! Legacy provides business coaching services in Ohio and around the world.
- Consciously shift from “win-lose” or “lose-win” to “win-win” thinking. “Customer-centric” thinking means ensuring that every customer gets a win in the transaction so that we can too! I advised the business owner in the above example to use one simple word – “No”
- Sell what the customer wants, not what you want. Counter to our natural instincts, lowest cost is seldom what customers want the most. They want value, and value has much more to do with things like “assurance of on-time delivery, seamless integration, and peace of mind” than it does with cost. Preach those things, whatever they are for your customers, loud and clear – over and over.
The business owner’s proposed solution was to cut the quoted price from $18,000 to $15,000 and move forward in order to prevent the job from being delayed (fear). I suggested he follow up and say something like:
“I’m sorry you feel that way, but both of us know there is significant cost involved to seamlessly deliver this kind of upgrade with the excellence you want (note: delivering value). I’ll tell you what I’ll do though; I’ll gladly do the additional work at the price I quoted, and if we find that we can save any money we’ll give you a refund”.
He did and the customer unhesitatingly agreed –a win-win vs. a compromise!
Whether there is any cost savings is irrelevant at this point (and it’s unlikely there will be). The real point is the owner knew what it would take to deliver what the customer wanted (value) and had the courage to ensure the transaction was a win on both sides (owning his numbers). Additionally, the business owner’s credibility level soared as both parties won.
Lack of knowledge circumvents our best intentions because it leaves us with no solid ground to stand on and usually limits our decision making process to one of compromise. Knowledge balanced with a strong commitment to delivering win-win solutions for our customers is the stuff that business breakthroughs are made of!
Business Coach in Ohio:
Have you considered inviting a trusted business coach into your business growth process? Legacy Business Leaders has answers that produce extraordinary sales and business breakthroughs. Our small business coaching process works, and whether you’re in need of a business coach in Ohio or anywhere else on the globe, we’re here for you.