This past Saturday, I needed to have some tires installed on my daughter’s car. I called a place I’ve been to before; their prices are competitive, their service has been very good, and they’re conveniently located, and I’ve always been able to get an appointment immediately. In other words, I go there because they’re convenient.
“You’ll be paying less than you would at any other competitor. We guarantee that. But we don’t give prices over the phone.”
I was a customer who was ready to buy. I didn’t care if they would save me $2 per tire over the competitor’s price. I just wanted to know what that price was, before I left my house. But she wouldn’t tell me.
The woman blew the sale, because she was focused on selling her way, regardless of how I wanted to buy.
There are a few dynamics at play here, which can apply to any size business:
1. Know your customer types, and engage different customers differently.
Every customer wants to know they’re getting a good price. But some customers are willing to forego a little savings for convenience. So before launching into a “nobody can beat our prices sales pitch,” make an effort to know what kind of customer you’re talking to, and what their buying criteria are. Then sell accordingly.
2. Don’t sell – help your customers buy.
Nobody likes to be sold to. But everybody likes to buy stuff. If you’re a discount tire store, and you insist on not quoting your prices over the phone, but guarantee you’ll beat the competitors’ prices, then quote those competitors’ prices over the phone. Don’t say which competitor it is, but just give the price, and promise you’ll be less. In other words, find a way to make buying easy for the customer, without compromising your ideas.
3. Align sales efforts with marketing efforts.
This tire retailer was running a “We’ll beat anybody’s price” campaign on tires. And their sales team was clearly executing on the campaign, to gain full mileage from it. That was good. In too many organizations, marketing will invest time and resources to create a great campaign. But without proper alignment, salespeople sell the way they always sell, without fully incorporating the message from marketing. Any campaign is less effective when the feet on the street march to a different beat than the minds in marketing.
Keep sales aligned with marketing, and sell in sync with your customers' preferences.