Last week’s blog post really struck a cord with many of you and I wanted to expand further on this subject and it’s going to take several more weeks to cover it all.
This may be hard to swallow, but the competition is not your problem. You are your problem. You must change and it could be more than one thing that you need to change. But the first change is being honest with yourself and admitting that you have to change your mindset, beliefs, or even your identity… how you see yourself and your role as salesperson. I do know this: You cannot do anything about your competition so stop blaming them and start responding differently. You’ll waste less time and feel better about what you do.
How much does one set of bed clothes and a nice dining room table cloth cost?
I wish I could introduce you to Christina. I met her last year and she works for a company here in Manhattan that sells high quality linens around the world. She told me that she had just returned from a sales call in Italy. Now, how do you spend money on airline tickets and hotels just to sell some linens and expect to make a profit? I was really confused.
Here was her answer. She said, “We know who our customers are and what they want. We also know who we are and what we do. We don’t serve everyone, only the very wealthy. In fact, we are very carful who we will even talk to because we can’t waste our time and money. We have to be really good at disqualifying our prospects. We only work for those who want the very highest quality in linens.”
She said, “Before I flew to Italy, I talked to her people and set a time to meet. When I arrived I waited about an hour on this lady. She looked through all my samples and placed an order for $1,000,000. And there is more to do later.
I was in shock! This really expanded my mind of what was possible. Do you think Christina defends her pricing? No, she just knows who she is and what she does. She knows what her clients want and her focus is on them.
You get your energy from focusing on your clients. Don’t focus on your competition. However, not everybody is your client. Disqualify those people who are only making decisions based on price if you are more expensive. If you win their business, all you have to look forward to is losing it when a cheaper price comes along, and believe me it will.
I had a client tell me he liked doing business with us because of how we responded when there was a problem. He was willing to pay more. I also refused to give a builder a price to insulate his next house because every fifth or sixth house he framed he gave it to the competition.
I had spent three or four hours of my afternoon making sure that our crew had what they needed so this builder could get his framing inspection. I made a trip to Home Depot, paid double for some R=30 batts, shoved them in the back seat of my car and took care of him. We finished in time and he got his framing inspection and sheet rocked the next day.
To my frustration, he gave the next house to the competition with no explanation as to why after I had emailed him the quote. So on the next house when he asked for a quote, I said “no.” I said, “You know what we charge. If you want me to insulate it, I’ll be happy to tell you what it costs. If there is a problem we can talk. You know that each house is about $1,500 to $1,700 because we’ve done 40 or 50 of them.
I also told him that this is NOT the kind of relationship that I wanted. I want to build trusting relationships with builders, serve them and do a great job and not have to worry about clients shopping around and changing suppliers over money. I can’t be the cheapest every time. There is always somebody willing to do it for less and it’s not me. So please use the other guy if you want, or use me if you want, but I’m not going to place myself in a competitive situation every time.
He used the other guy that time and then he gave me the next house and I never had another problem with him again.
What’s the lesson. Establish healthy boundaries for yourself and learn how to say “no” to prospects who don’t qualify. Sales is about asking not telling. You have to ask a lot of questions to determine if it even makes sense to do a presentation. After all, it may not.