Profiling Prospects

One of the most difficult and yet one of the most rewarding sales I ever made was during my first year in sales. That might have something to do with it, but the sale had a long lasting effect on my life.

I had come from the service side of business and had been groomed in sales by a Fortune 500 company who sold typesetting equipment. About six months into my sales career one of the prospects I had been working with told me she had signed the contract with my competitor early in the day.

This was at 4 pm on a Friday evening and we had planned to go over the details for her order on Monday morning. I had called to confirm our 8 am meeting.

I leaned against my home office wall and slid down to the floor feeling like I had just been deflated. I asked her if she would mind telling me why she had decided to go with the competitor, keeping the conversation light and friendly.

She told me they were the company she had always done business with (yes I knew that), they discounted the system by $10,000 (we weren’t allowed to discount, but were always the most expensive when comparing apples to apples) and they would have the system delivered in less than three weeks (now that was a tough one to compete with as our shipping from across the country took four to six weeks at best).

I took a deep breath and said, “I think based on that information you feel like you’ve made a good decision.”

She agreed, but I could hear theĀ apprehensionĀ in her voice, she knew she was about to be hit with objections.

Knowing the answer I asked “How long has it been since you purchased your last system?”

“About seven years,” she admitted.

“Remember how we went over the various types of jobs you typically do, 50% forms designs and the balance being complicated layouts for brochures, annual reports and high end graphics?”

“Of course,” my prospect took a deep breath, loud enough I could feel her resistance.

“When we were demonstrating the equipment in my office, you agreed our forms designs system would save you more than 50% of the time you now spend, right?”

“Yes,” she agreed.

“If I were to take your billable hours on forms at $50 an hour and 20 hours a week and reduce the time to 10 hours a week because of the unique system designs, you would be able to bill an additional 10 hours a week without having to pay your employees any over time. That would be about $500 a week or $25,000 a year and in 7 years that would be around $175,000. It seems like saving $10,000 on a $40,000 system is not that appealing.”

“But I’ve already signed the contract,” she declared.

“That’s true, but you haven’t accepted the delivery yet.”

It was shortly after 8 pm that evening when we hung up the phone and said goodnight. I went over every single feature and benefit she had told me was important to her for productivity and quality.

Results: Carol received delivery on my system six weeks later and we became Sushi buddies for more than 20 years. I became close friends with her and her family.

Never give up! My first reaction was one of great disappointment, but by following through on why I knew Carol needed to have my system despite the $10,000 additional cost initially, she not only became a loyal client, but a good friend.

I recognized Carol’s logical personality traits and appealed to her need to have numbers and lists of reason why she would be happier making a decision to use my equipment, even at 25% more in cost. Selling the value is always the best way to approach sales.