Seller skepticism is a necessary component of sales and business mastery. It is often missing in today’s management strategy.
We have all heard ad nauseum that today’s buyers are skeptical. How about today’s sellers?
“Just Give Me Your Best Price.” How many of your prospective customers ask you this question? Do you cave into their request?
Put on your seller skepticism hat, folks.
If your revenue stream is generated through responding to endless RFPs, chances are I’ve just described your entire sales strategy. You submit qualifications and a bid. Your strategy is “Wishin’ and A-Hopin’” that your price wins out over your competitors’ bids. Your “win”usually means you provided the lowest price per stated specifications, with perhaps a few extras thrown in.
Did you exercise seller skepticism in assessing whether or not to provide that RFP? Most of the time, you function as the third bid in a three-bid vendor selection model. I know. You still sent in your bid.
If you are chasing a sales quota, you’ve heard “Just give me your best price” from prospective customers a lot – especially at end of year and end of quarter. They know you are behind the sales 8-ball and anxious to close a sale. You cannot build a relationship based on their perception of you as a trusted advisor and partner if all you are doing is providing a price.
These prospective customers just want a bargain. Put on your seller skepticism hat if you choose to respond to them. Don’t count on their business next year at contract renewal time.
If you provide consulting services, you often are caught between your value proposition rock and a client budget hard place. You send off RFPs based on that prospective customer’s assurances that they are ready to purchase. You never hear from them again.
You articulated your value. You attempted to engage (often unsuccessfully) that prospective customer in articulating their own vision for that project’s outcomes and business deliverables. They just want you to give them a price, but for what?
There is a big red seller skepticism flag in this scenario. If your customer does not have or will not share their crystal clear vision for that project, do not send that proposal. It is not going to win you anything.
Hindsight is always 20-20. How else is seller skepticism born?
As you increase your level of business, technical and engineering mastery, you do become more adept at detecting signs and symptoms of proposal dead-ends.
Seller skepticism isn’t an attitude. It’s a habit that needs to be applied.
You will begin to generate prospective new business with a higher level of customers, the types for which your services are exquisitely well-suited.
Seller skepticism allows you to re-calibrate your discovery and listening skills for the signs and symptoms of price-shopping. A new level of customer asks questions that sound different. However, they still translate to: “Just give me your best price.”
Seller skepticism teaches you how and when to walk away from these “opportunities.” Make that your first step in your personal leadership strategy.
Review your pipeline deals from the first half of the year. Which ones did you land and why? Which ones did you lose and why?
Which ones are in limbo? Hmm.
I’d be skeptical about the limbo projects. Would you?
Babette N. Ten Haken, President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers®, LLC is a management strategist and team-building leadership coach. She helps companies, startups and family-owned businesses who wrestle with unpredictable revenue streams. She and her clients co-create Playbooks, resulting in more productive, profitable and healthy organizations. Her Playbook on leadership and business strategies, including tools, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.