Where There Is Smoke, There Is Fire

Where there is smoke, there is fire.

If your prospective client has been through five vendors in the last five years, there is a small chance that they haven’t yet found the right partner. There is a better chance that they are a difficult client with expectations that can’t be met and/or aren’t willing to make the changes on their side to get the results they want.

If your prospective client treats you as if you are a commodity throughout the sales conversations, they aren’t likely to change their overall approach to relationships after they buy from you. If you tried to create Level 4 value, the strategic value that differentiates you from your competition and compels change, they will still ask for your best and lowest price. Their perception isn’t likely to change. (For more on Level 4, see Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition)

The prospective client you are calling on has changed suppliers three times in five years, always signing a contract with the supplier with the lowest price. This is evidence that price is their overriding reason when it comes to selecting a supplier. Your higher-priced solution, as superior as it is to all alternatives, isn’t likely to change their beliefs without external factors helping shape their understanding of price and cost.

A prospect who struggles to give you credit information after being asked multiple times may have internal challenges in getting the things they need from inside their organization. They may also be that species of client who struggles to pay their bills, some because they can’t, and some because they won’t (it’s possible for some cash-rich companies to pay out of terms because they like to hold cash, including the largest logo clients you can imagine).

Stakeholders who are adversarial tend not to transform into enlightened, collaborative business relationships after they sign a contract. The adversarial approach to what they call “vendors” and “suppliers” is the way they do business. Having the ability and willingness to create greater value doesn’t easily budge them (unless you find someone with influence and authority who is willing to invest in better outcomes).

Where there is smoke, there is fire. When you pretend that the smoke isn’t the result of fire, you end up getting burned.

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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