Playing the Devil’s Advocate in B2B sales to realise higher prices

B2B, compelling, Customers, Sales

I have a major challenge pushing my sales people to sell at a higher price. They always have a pushback on the price saying the customer won’t buy. And we have big arguments.

Is this something you face. Is it difficult for you to charge a higher price for your services. Do you always end up losing orders, because your price is “high”

One technique, which I have shared to a small extent earlier also, is to play the devil’s advocate with the customer. There’s a caveat when you want to use this technique – you have to be sure that you provide the best services. If not, then first go and put your house in order. Learn to provide the best possible services at whatever price that you think is good.

With the devil’s advocate you make the customer convince you that she wants to do business with you. If the customer is able to convince you, then she can, internally, within her organisation, also convince people. Most of the times in B2B scenarios, the customer is surrounded by so many vendors who are all trying to say one of two things – I am the cheapest and / or I am the best. And the customer doesn’t believe any of them. In addition a lot of times, the person who is representing the customer, is also not clear why she wants to go after the solution. Most often its because someone higher up in the “pay grade” has asked them to find out.

So some of you would already be squirming that it’s not possible to raise the value of your offering. Just be with me for a minute and try this in your next meeting.

So first of all start with the first WHY – why are you wanting to do ‘this’ – whatever it is that they have asked you to come for, to discuss. Then you get to the second WHY – why is ‘this’ important in the bigger scheme of things in your business.

The third WHY starts to get you to figure out the value from a business perspective – WHY are you considering ‘this’ kind of a solution, couldn’t you have done it way cheaper by doing ‘that’ where the ‘that’ is an alternate and much lower price way to solve a problem. A very simplistic example of this would be – what are you wanting to buy a truck for, when you can use a bullock cart to transport the goods at a much lower cost. This will get the customer to come out, with what it is , that is key to them – a truck can carry longer distances faster and we want to get our products to de delivered to the farthest parts of the country. A bullock cart would take months and our competition will capture the market during that time.

Now you are getting a feel of what is important to them – long distance travel, fast.

Now comes the fourth WHY – I get your reason for not considering a bullock cart, but why are you wanting to consider our 10000CC trucks (just a a random figure) when you can have cheaper 5000CC trucks (another random figure) . At this stage if she says Yes we are considering 5000CC trucks and they are happy with that option, then they will expect your price to come closer to the 5000CC option and you will only play a losing game.

On the other hand if she says, I understand that the 5000CC trucks are cheaper, but their ability to drive continuously is limited to 3 hours while we would prefer if the truck can be driven continuously for 7-8 hours, then you now have different playing field. And you have not had to convince her.

You need to remember that in B2B scenarios, you are looking at professional buyers, who do buying all the time and want to compare you always with the lowest priced option. And you can keep trying to convince them of the value you bring but they won’t get convinced. However once you make them come out with the issues themselves, it becomes a lot easier since they are now providing all the compelling reasons.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem!!!

Compelling versus convincing

compelling, education, education, Marketing

The appreciation of the difference in the words Compelling & Convincing, and its implications in marketing was made possible due to Dean Jackson. I would highly recommend his podcasts Morecheeselesswhiskers.com and his podcast with Joe Polish, Ilovemarketing.com.

Whenever you place an argument in front of a person, even with all the data in the world and show them a conclusion, they will be resistive to it. If the conclusion is not drawn by the person herself, she will always try to find the “catch”. What is it that she’s missing.

On the other hand if you educate a person and logically lead them on a path, then the conclusion that they draw is their own and then they are compelled to look at you.

Look at Apple. They have well designed products no doubt. But look at the closed hierarchy of systems they have created. Every few months they have some global launch in which they showcase how the integration between their products and the newer technologies they are launching will make your life even more comfortable.

Till about 4 -5 years back we didn’t have a single Apple device, we now have 8. And my family members wait when a new item is getting launched. Apple does not try to convince them to buy, but they have got so strongly hooked into the Apple ecosystem, they will give you all the reasons why you should not buy anything else.

A person who is compelled to take action will be your customer for a long time because she has taken the decision based on the education you have given her.

So instead of trying to convince people to your point of view, give them the tools by educating them and compel them to take an informed decision.

Till next time then.

Carpe Diem