Tell me your price! Perhaps the most common question salespeople get from prospects. And why? The answer is simple: the prospect does not know what else to ask.
What often happens in the real world is this: people ask, "So, what's your price?" If you tell them, the conversation is frequently over, isn't it. They disappear. They got what they thought they were looking for, and went away with your information. You never hear from them again.
What were they doing? Every buyer, whether they consciously, deliberately do this or not, is making a spreadsheet. This spreadsheet is to compare the various options and see what the buyer can get for the lowest price.
Sounds okay, doesn't it? Where's the problem?
Tell Me Your Price and the Vanishing Prospect
In this video, I explain what the critical problem is with the all-too-common "Tell me your price" buying method:
Especially in RFP (Request for Proposal) situations, where there's zero dialogue between buyer and seller, and the seller has to respond to RFP documents with bid documents of their own, there's a lot of guessing going on.
Early in my career I worked for a firm in the power generation field that made control panels. RFPs would arrive and I, in my sales engineer role, would respond by preparing a bid document. The RFP would say something like, "The panel shall measure voltage." Okay. I can do that in several ways, each with its own plusses and minuses. An analog dial will do the job: it's cheap, but it is not incredibly accurate. A digital readout on a PLC unit (kind of a precursor to the computers we're familiar with today) could also do the job: more expensive, but more accurate. Those are just two of the options, and it's up to me as the salesperson to figure out which is best for that client. And maybe best for my bid! Maybe I want to position us as the lowest cost provider, and to accomplish that I pick all the cheapest ways to meet the feature requirements.
Sounds good, right up to the point where the buyer engineer reads my bid documents and says to themselves, "Aww what a bunch of junk! I don't want analog gauges! I want a high level of accuracy in our readouts."
But that is something I will never hear.
The RFP process is the same thing as a caller asking, "So, what's your price?" and then vanishing.
Without dialogue between buyer and seller you never get a clear idea of what everyone wants out of the transaction. You never hear preferences. You never get the chance to discover how you as the seller could really delight the buyer, with some feature they didn't know you had and you didn't think was important enough to mention.
Thanks to the global situation over the past year or so, buyers are more willing to invest time and energy getting on a phone or video call to share their requirements. This is your opportunity to learn directly from the customer what their actual needs are...instead of guessing. Take advantage of it.
Go out of your way to make use of this renewed interest in personal contact, and use the opportunity to not only develop trust but also discover what your potential customer really wants and means. Ask them, "Would you like to get on a quick call to discuss, so I can be clear and make sure I'm offering you on the right things?" Respect their time. Keep the discussion to 20-30 minutes maximum—you can always have another call later when they find they enjoy speaking with you.
Don't let these easy opportunities slip by, and don't quote based on guesswork.