One of the most common mistakes a salesperson makes trying to beat the competition is lowering the price. Sell more than just the price and you may just end up with what you were hoping for – i.e., a signed contract. Refl exively lowering your price means you're thinking cheap. When a sales person thinks cheap, the customer thinks cheap. It may seem easy, even logical, but it actually leads to detrimental selling situations. For instance: a price war. It's easy to beat the other guy's price by $100. The problem is that the other company will quickly counter-drop. Now you're into something, and before you know it you're trying to talk the customer into giving his business to the other guy. Either that, or a third company steps in.
When you drop your price, you often hear your sales offer compared to the types of offers made at the used car lot. Insulted? You should be. The customer is essentially saying that you've offered no more than a price he can live with, which means you probably haven't done a good job detailing features and benefi ts, explaining the job process, or selling the value of the job itself. In other words, you're not listening, you're just talking, and what you're talking about is price. Talk beyond price. Price is just the cost of the services you're offering. Then consider this: A job sold cheaply means lower profi ts. Lower profi ts mean less money for the company, the salesman, and the job folder. A job sold cheaply puts roadblocks in the way to successfully completing that job. What will happen if the original measurements are off and the job requires more materials and labor? Where will the money come from to pay for missed accessory items or the replacement of materials incorrectly ordered? Who pays for bad wood discovered during the installation? What can go wrong, will go wrong. Especially on jobs sold too cheaply.
Keep in mind the original reason why customers buy: trust. They trust your product line, your services, your features and benefi ts. Also be aware that as you drop the price based solely on the need to beat the competition, the customer loses respect for your original intentions and promises, and often, too, your integrity. Re-establishing respect is diffi cult and, if nothing else, places control of the selling situation in the customer's hands, not yours.
Rather than simply selling price, consider:
1. Changing or varying the job description. For example, quote eight triple-pane windows plus a bay, versus every other quote that includes 10 doublepane windows. Eliminate applesto- apples comparisons.
2. Upselling. Don't be surprised to fi nd that a customer will sign a $20,000 contract that includes new doors and trimwork over and above the other quotes that only included the windows for $12,000. Suggest new shutters, door surrounds, and other fi nal-touch products that offer that great fi nished look that overshadows the "just siding" quotes by the other company. Buyers like the idea that there's nothing left to be done.
3. Taking pride in your product and service. Promise the best, deliver the best, and charge for it. Charging more allows you to include a stronger warranty and better customer service. In today's discount world, it may seem like price is the most important part of building a customer base. But that's truer for us than it is for the buyers.
–Jake Jacobson is vice president of sales for Premier Window & Building, a home improvement company in Baltimore.
Does your company have a business practice or installation technique to share with the industry? Call Jim Cory at 215.923.9810 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org