Industrial Sales: Are You Hoping, Or Selling?

Buyers often tease sellers with interest to gain margin out of a deal, leaving sellers 'hoping' for a sale instead of actually selling. Learn from Paul Reilly how to know when you're hoping instead of selling.

Here’s a familiar scenario…

It’s the end of the month and you’re not even close to attaining your quota. You’re wondering, “How am I going to hit my monthly number? My pipeline is dry. I’ve shaken every tree and nothing seems to be happening.” Then, all of a sudden you get a call out of nowhere. An unknown, unqualified prospect calls you with a mammoth quote request. This piece of business would not only take care of your quota this month, but the entire quarter.

You quickly get to work tracking down material, confirming lead times and exhausting your internal resources. Before you know it, your entire week is consumed by this one quote. The only problem . . . You’re not going to win.

If the buyer only needs a number from you, they’re not interested in your value-added solution. The buyer is only interested in using your quote as leverage to negotiate a cheaper price with their go-to supplier.

This is a classic technique buyers use to chisel margin out of the deal. They know that salespeople drop the price in a competitive bidding scenario. Don’t fall for the trap. The buyer is using your quote as a negotiating chip.

Here are some indicators that you’re hoping versus selling:

  • An unfamiliar prospect asks for a large quote;
  • The unfamiliar prospect withholds details;
  • They refuse to have an in-depth conversation about their needs;
  • They refuse to involve other decision makers;
  • They ask for a discount; and
  • Once you send them the quote, they go silent.

Every salesperson can relate to this situation. You get excited about these opportunities. You can’t believe this opportunity just fell from the sky. But, this is hoping, not selling.

Value-added salespeople don’t hope. They proactively take control of the sales conversation and guide it down a path of value. Value-added salespeople get there early in the sales process—from the moment a need exists. They are meeting with multiple decision makers and understanding their needs.

Value-added salespeople use these hope scenarios to get there early for the next time. When you get there early, you understand the buyer’s needs. When you’re early, you help the buyer establish criteria and build relationships. When you’re early, you are the information source.

If you didn’t help the customer discover their needs, you’re late to the party. But you can still be early to the next one. Use these opportunities to engage the buyer and proactively guide the next sales conversation down a path of value.

As salespeople, time is your greatest resource. Don’t waste your time hoping. Use the big quote request as your lead-in for the next opportunity. Get their early and steer the conversation down a path of value.

Paul Reilly is president of Reilly Sales Training, a St. Louis-based, privately owned company that specializes in training sales professionals, sales managers, and service professionals. Call Paul at 636-778-0175 or email[email protected].

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