What do you do when the client you have been wooing for weeks tells you they are planning to go with a cheaper bid from a competitor? Do you give up and move on? Or, do you keep fighting until they say it is a done deal? My hope is that we are asking our clients to give us every chance to show why what we do will stand out! The task at hand is to save the sale by doing MORE work than just answering a bid opportunity.
Having a keen eye for when a sale is going sour takes savvy. Here are five examples of red flags and strategies for saving the sale:
If a Potential Client Seems Indifferent
A client who is interested in doing business with you should have questions and concerns. If they don’t outright reject you but don’t have any questions either, be on the alert.
To resolve this problem, try creating more of an advisory relationship with clients. Ask pointed questions about your competitors. “Who else are you asking to bid on this group?” “What do you like about XYZ hotel?” “What do you feel is their key strengths?”. Try to identify where the customer’s hot buttons lay.
People usually share more with an advisor than a salesperson. It’s more of a dialogue and friend-on-friend conversation. It also allows your inner salesperson to come out by addressing their concerns and validating your hotels capability to fulfill their needs.
If There’s No Hard Deadline For a Decision
Having urgency around a sale is important. Early in the process, ask potential clients about their timeframe. You want to prioritize those companies that have a hard deadline.
You can find ways to firm up deadlines, by presenting limited-time offers or discounts to create urgency around a sale. The airlines are masters of this tactic! “Only two more seats left at this price” shows urgency. What if we created tier bidding…. “Book by (this date) and take advantage of advance booking pricing of $xxxx. Contracts signed by (this date) result in higher pricing of $xxxx.”
If You Aren’t Dealing With the Decision Maker
You may start out talking with a junior-level employee who is vetting options, but beware if you aren’t put in touch with the decision maker after a few conversations. It’s probably a sign the company isn’t serious about buying.
Getting past that roadblock can be challenging. The bigger the organization you are dealing with, the more layers of management you likely will have to penetrate. Try creating a presentation that your initial contact can easily show to upper management. You also might request a quick conference call with the senior-level person involved. It’s a sticky situation because you need to be respectful of the person you are talking to and not undermine their position.
If Your Price is Too High
People generally object to a price because they believe they can find the same product or service for less or because you’re trying to sell more than they need.
If your competitors are offering a lower price, focus on how you can provide added value. But if you’re offering more than a client needs, you may need to scale back the initial proposal – compare apples to apples! Ask the customer how your proposal is different than the lower priced proposal (not price differences!). You also could offer creative payment alternatives, such as incentives on the first purchase if the customer continues to buy more.
If You’re Asked For a Proposal Instead of a Conversation
When potential clients ask for a proposal before agreeing to talk with you, it’s usually a sign they’re simply gathering price quotes from vendors.
Before submitting a proposal, ask what the client is looking for and what criteria will be used to make the decision. Reaching a verbal understanding on those issues increases the likelihood that you’ll get the sale. The problem with a proposal is there is no chance for them to tell you what is wrong with it as opposed to working through all the nuances verbally.