Salespeople—like all other groups of people—lie to themselves. You can call it rationalizing, if it makes you feel better. The long and short of the matter is, we want to believe things that simply aren’t true.
Advisory Warning: This is going to hurt. A lot! If you have no interest in facing the truth, please be advised and point your web browser in a safer direction.
I Lost On Price
The most dangerous lie that salespeople tell themselves (and anybody else who will listen) is that they lost the opportunity with their dream client on price.
The reason we tell ourselves this lie is that it absolves us completely of any and all responsibility. It says: “I did everything I could as a salesperson, and the only reason I didn’t win the deal was completely and totally out of my control.”
None of this is true.
You Didn’t Lose on Price
You did not lose on price. It is hard to take, but when you lose on price, it means that you failed to create enough value to prove that you were worth paying more for.
Your dream client is willing to pay more in price for a reduction in overall cost. This means that you have to use all of your differentiators to create enough value that even though your price may be higher, your results in fact generate a greater return for your dream client.
This is never easy to do. It is especially difficult in tough economic times when decisions are heavily weighted towards the lowest price. Even when you can prove a higher return on investment some opportunities are just damn hard to win. Even when you have done everything right, you will still lose, and you will still hear your dream client say something like: “Your competitor had a lower price.” When you hear this, it means is that you did not differentiate yourself enough to shift the decision-making to criteria outside of price and you did not prove that your higher price results in a lower cost by producing a greater return on your dream client’s investment.
Before you get too upset and unhappy and flood my inbox with nasty emails, know that you can do everything in your power, you can do everything right, and you can still fail to convince your dream client that you are the right choice. Sometimes it is ridiculously difficult convincing them, and they will absolutely make the wrong choice. (In which case, they go immediately back on to your nurture list until you find their name in the obituaries . . . and then you start on their replacement)
Facing your failures is all part of improving. You have to be willing to recognize that you failed to move your dream client from price to another set of factors. You have to recognize that you failed to make a compelling case that the lowest price was not the lowest cost and that you could create a greater return on their investment. You have to take stock of your wins and your losses so that you can identify what is working and what is not working.
More important still, you have to believe that you can take actions in the future that will produce a different—and more favorable—result.
Blaming it on price doesn’t absolve you of your responsibilities. Neither does blaming it on your pricing structure. If you need better pricing as part of creating the winning offer (without selling price), it is your responsibility to go and get that pricing.
None of this is ever easy. But it is always necessary.
1. You’re still here? Good! Then answer these questions . . .
2. Are you willing to believe that there was more that you could have done to win your dream client that you believe you lost on price?
3. Are you willing to believe that it is possible to create enough value for your dream client that you can shift the decision to factors other than price?
4. Are you willing to believe that it is possible to create enough value that your overall cost may be lower than your competitors even when your price is higher? Are you willing to believe that your price is higher because all of the differentiators produce more value for your dream clients and that there are costs that are required to deliver that value, costs that are built into your price?
5. If you believe that all of these things are true, are you willing to act on these beliefs? What actions can you take to improve your ability to move the deciding factors away from price and towards cost?
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