I was engaged in discussions with a consulting in Seattle, WA about them using my services. They had 18 clients that they acquired through networking, referrals, and introductions. Their networked had been tapped out and they had to come up with an offensive sales and marketing plan to reach out to prospective clients who’ve never heard of this firm.
I had reached out to the CEO and we agreed to talk. We had a few discussions, I gave him a proposal, pricing was in line, and he gave him his verbal commitment.
Not a “This sounds good.” or “This looks appealing.” He point blank said he will move forward with us after 4th of July.
I spoke to his partner as well, etc.
Some time passed and we spoke again. He gave his verbal commitment BUT asked for a few competitors of mine to see how they stacked up against us.
(I agree that a client is never final until the agreement is signed or if payment has been executed.)
Being the idiot I was, I gave him 2 formidable competitors of mine.
Guess what? You can probably tell the ending to the story. They went with one of my competitors.
I got outsold, outsmarted, and learned two important lessons:
1. NEVER give a prospect names of competitors you directly compete against. Let them spend their valuable time researching your competition. Maybe this company was lazy and I was a sucker for handing them a firm on a silver platter so that they didn’t have to spend their time doing their homework. Respectfully tell them “NO”.
2. I took the prospect at their word on their verbal confirmation. Prospects lie all the time. People complain that sales people lie. Prospects do it as well. It’s hypocritical for prospects to complain about salespeople when they do it themselves.
Here’s what I should have said: “Mr. Prospect, you told me earlier that my timing, service, and pricing was right in line with what you thought. You told me you’re moving forward with us. What’s causing your hesitation to move forward that you would need to talk to my competitors before moving forward with us?
For some of you reading this, you may be thinking “Duh Ray, how could you be so naive.” Perhaps you’re correct.
If I would have gotten clarification above, would I have landed the client? Maybe. Maybe not.
But I might have gotten to the root of their hesitancy.
Moral of the blog: If a prospect asks about your competition, politely and respectful tell them to do their own research AND ask them what about you is causing them to look around at your competition. Get to the core of why they aren’t moving forward.
I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000 and I’m guilty of making sales blunders just like the next person.