Entries from December 2008 ↓

Holiday sales vacation

Merry ChristmasEngineersCanSell is going to to take a two week respite for the holiday season to maximize time with friends and family.

I want to thank all of you for making this a phenomenal year. My readership has exploded, I’ve met some great sales people, acquired some clients, and even made a few friends along the way.

Please take this latter half of December to reflect on how blessed we all are and try to give back to those less fortunate.

And get some rest – the first quarter is right around the corner and we’re going to work hard to fill up your sales funnel!

So, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, and all the other politically correct tidings of great sales joy.

Playing hard to get in action

Mad customerIn the previous post, we talked about the basic sales strategy of playing hard to get. This post will look at an example pulled from a real-life sales call.

To set the stage, imagine that you have developed a manner by which to produce a material that no one else can currently manufacture. The competing material fails in service so often that designers are desperate to design it right out of service, but they are forced to use it because it’s all that’s out there.

OK, so you trot into your prospect’s office and lay out some parts that you made from your new material and their jaws instinctively drop to the ground in amazement, they rush out of the room to huddle and come back in much more composed.

You run the rest of the meeting and collect some cost data on their current practices and gather some forecasts for what a successful material could do in their market place. You leave them with the impression that you’ll get a formal quote to them in about a week but that they should be prepared for an expensive number because your processing route is very costly.

After about a week you overnight them a shiny proposal for your material at $500 per pound – knowing that the competition costs them about $125 per pound. You get an immediate call:

Customer: “This price is unacceptable and you need to resubmit.”

You: “I understand your frustration, but as we detailed in our last meeting, our manufacturing route precludes us from competing with the price of your current solution. Perhaps this isn’t a good fit for our material after all.”

Customer: “Please take another look at your numbers and get back to me next week with your best and final offer.”

A week passes…

Customer: “Have you had a chance to rework your numbers?”

You: “I reviewed our quotation with the production team and we really can’t do much. I could probably shave off about $3 per pound if it would help close the deal, but that’s it.”

Customer: “That’s not even close to enough, this deal is dead!”

You: “Very well then, please keep us in mind if you come across any applications that can bear this increased cost.”

A week passes.

A month passes.

Customer: “Uh, yeah, hi, it looks like we might have found a few applications where your high costs can be acceptable.”

You: “Great, let’s talk!”

A note of caution: this is a very delicate sales strategy that can easily backfire if you’re not completely in tune with your customer’s needs and your competitor’s offerings. It isn’t for the faint of heart.

Playing hard to get marketing

Hard to get marketingPlaying hard to get is an accepted, and effective, way to lure a potential mate into a relationship – so why not apply it to your selling strategy.

I first picked up the subject several years ago from an article in the Harvard Business Review, I think they called it “retro marketing”. It essentially means that you lay out what you have and then revert to a take-it or leave-it attitude with your prospect.

I’ve come to rely on this sales approach rather heavily over the years and will lay out a hard example in the next post, but the main ideas follow:

  • being hard to get doesn’t imply that you can be arrogant
  • you need to have the best quality and customer service to pull this sales strategy off
  • you need to be prepared to walk away from any deal you try this on
  • you need to believe that your proposed solution is the best solution for your client
  • you (might) need your boss’s agreement to deploy this strategy
  • you need to understand your competitors offerings before trying this

The main point is to be careful, because once you put this idea out there, it’s tough to claw back to another starting point and alternative strategy.  The idea is to extract what your solution is worth and to keep your prospect’s best interest at heart – that can be a fine line to walk.

The next post will have a real world example of this strategy in action.

Sales quotation sample; Part II

In the base post of this series as well as a related post, we talked about many different aspects of a sales quotation and even put forth a sample quotation.  In this post, we’re going to talk about what leadtimes you should put on your quote.

A quoted leadtime can mean different things to different parties.  Oftentimes, on a quote a salesman will put a leadtime that refers to when the product will ship.  The customer, however, will often view leadtime as when they can expect your widget delivered on their dock.  So be careful to make this distinction clear.

Another typical item to carefully spell out is that your quoted leadtime is after you receive their order (ARO).  So if you quote “3 weeks ARO”, it means that the leadtime is three weeks after they send in their order.

If your product is highly dependant on receiving raw materials, you might want to quote the that the leadtime also is after receipt of materials (ARM).

Finally, if your dealing with an unknown customers and you need paid up front, your leadtime needs to reflect that you won’t ship until after receipt of payment (ARP).

So a complex example would be:
Shipment: 4 weeks ARP, ARM (note that raw materials won’t be ordered until payment is received)

In the above example, you are saying that after you get paid, you will order raw material and ship your product out in 4 weeks from that day.

Please CLICK HERE to download a sample sales quotation to use as a template in your sales efforts.