WHY SALESPEOPLE NEED TO LEARN THE POWER OF SAYING "NO"
If it's one thing that salespeople hate most of all - it is leaving money on the table or having to walk away from a deal altogether. But sometimes in the haste or desperation of trying to chalk up a win, salespeople forget the importance of saying "No" and standing firm - because in business, respect is a two way street and you need to earn the fair value for your products or services from your customers.
WE HAVE ALL BEEN THERE...
Perhaps you are just starting out your career selling or your trying to get your business off to a running start or out of a slump - we have all been there, we want to charge $X,XXX.XX for solving our client's problems but they want to pay $0.XX - and be it desperation, pressure or the need to keep the lights on we relent and take the deal. And that's fine - I have done it, many of the veterans have done it, but I can also tell you almost all of us also regret it. And if we had time machines we would go back in time and beg ourselves to say No - Why?
FACT: 90% OF YOUR STRESS WILL COME FROM THAT ONE CUSTOMER YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID "NO" TO.
Because even though 20% of your customers may account for 80% of your revenue, 90% of your stress is going to come from that 1 customer you should have said "No" to. That one customer is going to take up so much of your time and frustrate you so much, you will never get around to closing the deals with those customers that actually value what you do for them and are willing to pay you for it.
INSTEAD YOU DROP YOUR PANTS OR PROMISE THE WORLD...
One of the worst habits I see with salespeople, business owners and entrepreneurs is that when they see customers getting even a little nervous or negative they immediately drop the price. I have sat in meetings between vendors and prospects, where the salesperson quotes an inflated price knowing full well they are going to drop and do it before the topic of price even comes up in the conversation, expecting applause for being the hero, but instead the reaction is often more of disappointment like when a comedian whose joke bombs with the audience.
My advice, you should always do your best to go forward with your best price, you should defend it with the belief that you are charging the client fairly because of the value you are delivering.
Clients will always want to pay less - it is your job to make them understand that the reason they should buy from you is because the way you solve their problem or can help them is something they won't be able to find anywhere else for that price. You should respect your client knowing full well they will talk to their peers and do their research - they have their ranges and their own budget constraints. Coming in with an inflated price is a betrayal of that trust. Focus on charging what you believe and know can be proven as fair, because when you defend that price and show them how you will get them from point A to point B, the client will respect you for it. It shows you have confidence in your own abilities and the firms. Respect is a two way street, so don't drop your pants - it's not worth it.
On the flip side I also hear many stories from angry and frustrated clients regarding salespeople who promised them the world within a too good to be true price, usually in the form of hasty concessions to help seal the deal before a deadline or due to internal pressure to meet quota. In most cases the salesperson fails to deliver on those promises and the long term relationship with that customer is toast or never fully recovers. Respect and trust are hard earned and easily lost - so don't make promises you can't keep, in the long run it will come back to haunt you and the entire company.
TRY THIS OPTION: SAY "NO."
No is probably the most under-used word in a salesperson's vocabulary these days. In blindly accepting that the customer is always right, we have forgotten the power of being firm, steadfast and taking a stand when being forced to do or promise something that we know is not possible or right for the customer.
When you take on a job that you are not being fairly compensated for, you will be forced to cut corners to save time and cost or you will not be motivated to do your best work because the reward is far outweighed by the risk - you are setting yourself up for failure. When faced with a customer who is demanding or asking for a concession that will hurt you, you should not just say "No," you should also explain why.
DON'T JUST SAY "NO" AND DO A MIC-DROP, THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED ANOTHER KAYNE. EXPLAIN WHY.
Depending on the context of your conversation - saying "No" is an opportunity to identify the gap between your client's expectations and what you are offering. The client is allowed to be emotional and irrational, but as their partner you need to make them understand why you can't do what their asking.
As a salesperson you must exercise empathy, situational awareness and a high emotional intelligence in these situations. You can't be negative or exhibit anger or frustration with the client - they are already feeling that hence they are in the room with you, your job is to appease them and guide them so that they may understand.
And if you can't do it, say it and tell them why - instead of promising you can or slashing your price, because you can't. Customer's respect and expect their partners, vendors, suppliers to be transparent and honest with them - they hate surprises. Your customer's most likely have their own customers they are trying to keep happy - you have to reposition how your product or service will help them in their own business and help them understand the justification for the value you are offering and charging for.
IF YOU CAN'T HELP THEM, REFER THEM TO SOMEONE WHO CAN
It may come to a point where you have said "No" and the client is not willing to go further - instead of letting them walk away empty handed, you may want to refer them to someone who maybe help satisfy their needs based on their own terms. Now I'm not saying refer your Fortune500 customer to your direct competitor - but depending on the situation you may want to refer them to a partner you trust who maybe willing to take on the risks your not. Your clients will appreciate this and perhaps when they go around and talk to other potential partners, they may learn and validate your advice and come back to you.
You see this practice with good doctors and lawyers all the time. Despite situations where a person's health or freedom are at risk, they will often have patients or clients concerned with cost or their recommended advice. These doctors and lawyers are highly trained and confident in their own abilities, they know their value - so if their customer's aren't willing to pay their fees or take their advice they say "No" with their reasons why and politely refer them to other professionals in their network for a second opinion. Often they find these same customers come back to them after finding out the hard way, why they should have taken the initial offer or because they get a better understanding from speaking to competitors of the quality of advice they received prior to being referred.
The lesson here is a salesperson must have confidence in their own abilities and be aware of the competition and what alternatives the market has to offer - sometimes you have to say "No" and let the customer find out on their own, why they should stick with you.
Trust your Instincts!
One last piece of advice - many of us salespeople, business owners and entrepreneurs will be in a situation where we are trying to close a difficult deal with a prospect - you will have that nagging feeling that you shouldn't do the deal because its paying too little or your promising too much. LISTEN TO THAT VOICE. It's your instincts telling you to take a step back and have a second look. If the deal isn't fair to you, it will not be fair to the client when you fail to deliver. Respect their time and take a stand, explain why it's not fair to both parties and say "No." - trust me you will be avoiding a lot of trouble.
This post is a personal one for me as it contains a lot of hard lessons, I would thoroughly appreciate feedback. Share your insights with me via Twitter: @alihanif101