Two Months Free (Issue 560)

In which we are reminded that cutting price (at least without being asked) is not a strong strategy for dissolving clients’ purchasing roadblocks.

We (Clarity) have been speaking for several months with a company that provides a web-based service we like.  My team members and I have  looked at it closely.  Most gave a strong thumbs up – enough support for me to continue considering the subscription, not enough to prompt an immediate order.

The provider’s sales representative has patiently worked through all of this with us.

Once we completed the agreed evaluation steps,  he sent me an accurate summary of our discussions to which he attached a contract. I committed to discuss the decision with the team the next day….

And…. I didn’t.  We were more intensely focused on other matters  including conversion from one CRM software to another.  {You’d think a CRM conversion would be easy for a company our size, and it isn’t.  It takes a lot of time and it’s distracting and irritating.)

Two weeks went by. The provider’s sales rep emailed me. “Are you ready to move forward?”   He offered one month of service free to induce action.  I didn’t respond.  He called and emailed a couple of more times.

By and by, I wrote back and said, “Thank you for your notes and the one free month.  It’s not about price. It’s about capacity. We’re implementing a new CRM system and we’re all just flat out with clients.   I don’t want to introduce anything new at this point.  Let’s talk in six weeks.”

He wrote back saying, “Nick, I can offer you TWO free months if you’ll sign now.  This is the best offer I can make.”

I shook my head:  He was hoping that reducing price (by extending the subscription period) would  overcome our bandwidth challenges.  In this case, lower price did not trump limited bandwidth and he has now reduced his price point… even though  I never challenged his pricing. We wouldn’t have said yes, even if the provider’s company had offered to pay us $1000 a month to start using the software.

How could this have gone another way?

He could have said, “ Nick, are you really interested in this service?”  My response would have been, “yes and, because of bandwidth issues and a couple of my team members’ indifference, I’m not convinced we will use the tool fully and earn a full return on the investment. I want to wait six weeks so we can focus on it.”

His next move could have been something like, “I understand, I hear several issues there, and it sounds like you’re flat out busy all the time. How will you be able to carve out time six weeks from now for you and your team to review our discussions and make a decision… since it’s been very challenging for you to do that now?”

That exchange would have led us down a different path, giving him options to bring the discussion to a head and help me resolve bandwidth and indifference … all without reducing his price a dime or a day.

Note to self: Do NOT offer price concessions to resolve purchase decision roadblocks, particularly if the buyer has not asked for a concession.  The roadblock is almost always about something else – bandwidth, control, priorities, compatibility,  rarely about price.  Don’t give yourself away.


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