The trouble faced by most salespeople is that they let their jobs work against them. We developed a negotiation program for a prominent rod and reel company. Management was convinced that their people were making larger concessions than necessary to buyers.
We went into the field with their salespeople. It soon became evident how their jobs were working against them. Despite the fact that the company had made fine fishing gear for eighty years, it seemed that few of those selling valued their products highly.
Faced with buying quick to tell then that their prices were too high and their equipment no better than the competition, the salespeople quickly lowered their expectations. Concessions soon followed. Was that any surprise? Hardly.
Never in their many sales calls had a buyer told them how low their prices were or how highly the fishing public valued their fishing gear. Buyers with common sense rarely say things to a seller that will raise their expectations.
The company decided to hire an outside polling company. Three focus groups surveyed including the company salespeople, sport store buyers and the general fishing public. While there were many questions asked, the essential one was, “Which of the major manufacturers do you believe makes the best rods and reels for the price?”
The survey revealed that their fishing gear was rated first by both the general public and the professional buyers. The only people who rated the competition higher were the company’s own salespeople. They rated their own rods and reels lowest of the major competitors.
Was it any surprise that these salespeople made concessions easily? They had learned from the many buyers they faced daily that their products weren’t so good and their prices too high. After a while, they began to believe that the best and only way to close a sale was to lower the price. It was this tendency that management sought to neutralize in the bargaining process.
The first defense in holding price is to recognize that most salespeople allow the accumulation of buyer rejections and negative comments to erode their confidence in the positive values of their own products and services.
The next time you hear a buyer “throwing garbage on your lawn” by downgrading your offering, recognize that they are just doing their jobs. They will never tell you how good your product is or how favorable your price. Your job is to tell them again and again why your price, product and service will deliver what they need.
Professional buyers are quite rational in making purchasing decisions. Don’t let their verbal fireworks get you down. They are probably saying the same thing to your competitors. They do so because it is effective.