“So,” my friend continued through his thickly sliced mouthful of turkey, “we worked for months with the guy who is launching this new product line, developing terrific preliminary designs, solid production plans, and a proposal. This proposal is my year, right? I make this deal, I score big. I miss this deal, it’s coal in the Christmas stockings.”
“So, we submitted the proposal. They asked for changes. We made them. A few weeks later, they asked for more changes. We made them, everything was good. They called and said, ‘We’re good; tomorrow, we’re going to present the proposal to management committee for a final blessing.’”
“What happened,” I asked?
“He called the n e x t d a y and said, ‘the deal is off.”
“Seriously?” I was shocked!
He tore off another corner of his turkey sandwich.
“He told me, ‘The purchasing manager announced in the meeting that, last year, one of their guys – some Junior Nobody in a dark corner, purchased from another vendor a boat load of similar parts intended for use in another product line. The vendor offered a huge volume discount; we bought the huge volume.”
“So now we have beaucoup of these parts. They won’t fully meet my needs for MY new product line but, because purchasing HAS the parts and they will SORT OF work, I have to use them, anyway….. I’m sorry… It’ll take me a year to work through the inventory.”
“So what did you say,” I asked?
“I said, ‘That’s goofy!” my friend replied. “That will seriously limit your new product. The pay off from using our parts in the new product line will more than compensate for writing off the other vendor’s excess parts!!!”
I guess not…
We often overlook a critical question when we’re pitching woo and building momentum with a client or prospect toward a purchasing decision:
“Who else might have a point of view about how you could address this issue internally?” or “What’s another way you could get the job done, internally, rather than taking the approach we’re discussing?”
Another phrasing might be, “If you don’t do the new whatever we’re discussing, what is your best alternative, internally?” or “How could you get the job done using internal resources rather than going outside?”
Internal alternatives or competitors are almost always a factor. It’s good to discover them early.
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