I get hundreds of emails a month from people asking questions on closing, objections, you name it, and one that I consistently get time and again is the frustration on trying to close deals with people who utilize the “old boy network” or cannot seem to get away from their current vendor. A lot of salespeople just give in and come to the conclusion that you “can’t win them all.” No, but you can win some of the bigger deals you think are lost to this dilemma if you just appeal to the buyer’s common sense, which I did one day by accident out of anger and frustration.
True Story: After numerous presentations to this company’s committees, board, VPs, you name it, it all came down to the owner (which would have been nice to know ahead of time, but I was naïve at this point, and willing to present to anyone who would listen) and what he thought. The committee said they would present it and “get back to me.” Well, rest assured I had created value, created excitement, developed rapport with everyone in the process, everyone but the decision maker and now I was going to have these people make the presentation to the man who signed their check? Do you think they would be able to convey the type of excitement I would? Answer the objections in the detail required? Of course not. So, not leaving it up to chance, I asked to make the presentation myself and fortunately was allowed to do so.
Well, after spending an hour or so displaying the many benefits and features of my sales training program, developing rapport with the decision maker, getting agreement from all involved, we turned to the owner for his answer or his thoughts. He paused for a second, then gave me his answer, an answer which he felt would end the presentation, placate me and send me on my way.
“Mark, everything you said makes perfect sense and would be a great addition to the training we receive currently, but I have been with Rick (current trainer) for almost five years and we have been happy thus far, and I am unsure if we can fit BOTH programs into the budget.”
Doing my homework prior, I knew that the sales team was unhappy with the results from Rick’s company, but he was a good friend of the owner and the results he was getting were satisfactory enough for him to keep his job. The sales managers had voiced their opinion as far as they could without jeopardizing THEIR careers and it was up to me to seal the deal. I knew that the budget was NOT the concern, it was his friendship and loyalty, and he needed a shove in the direction of common sense and responsibility, regardless of loyalty. So here is how I moved the deal to the closing table and combated the “friendship/loyalty” dilemma:
ME: “Mr. Smith, let me ask you a question if I may?”
OWNER: “Sure go ahead,” as he leaned back in his seat.
ME: “I respect the loyalty to your friend and his training company and what they have done up to this point. But we agreed that what I can offer in the form of training can help take your sales team to another level in performance, and we all know that means increased profits, and you agreed that our program makes sense to what you want to accomplish, is that also correct?”
I essentially recapped all the benefits he would receive by going with our company, and began building my case appealing to basic common sense, especially with an audience present. I wanted to make the case so compelling that the decision on HIS end was a low risk, "no brainer” decision. It had to be an OBVIOUS choice, not an ambiguous one.
OWNER: “Certainly, I think we are in agreement on those issues.”
ME: “Well, that being the case Mr. Smith, shouldn’t your first loyalty be to your company and its financial well being?”
BANG!!!! That’s it. That’s all you need to say regarding their loyalty to their current vendor. It is very powerful, VERY thought provoking and common sense always comes into play.
Needless to say after making that statement and looking at him with a sense of concern and genuine interest in his company, we signed the deal that night to SHARE the training with Rick. Within 45 days it became obvious my competitor’s techniques and strategies were antiquated and subsequently they were let go and we received the contract for the full training. The results were astounding and we got a great reference and MORE business.
Remember, ask the prospect what is more important, loyalty to the vendor or to his own company. I think we all know the answer.