I recently had some quotes for cutting back a large lime tree in my garden. I had three quotes:
- The first quote was from a man that worked on his own. He was friendly enough and said he could do the job. He made an appointment to see the job and then cancelled at the last minute, then he did it again. He finally came to see the job and jotted a few notes down on a scrap of paper and said he could do it for £750.
- The second man was clearly from a bigger firm with an impressive website. He turned up on time, took in what I had to say and said he would give me a quote the next day. He came back and quoted a price of £1,100. The quote was professionally put together and emailed to me.
- The last man turned up bang on time. We discussed why I wanted the work done. He talked to me for some time about how trees grow and what happens when they are cut. In the end he suggested that I do something completely different, but that would suit my needs much better. He promised a quote that evening which was duly received. Again it was professionally put together. He quoted £1,400.
In the end I chose the last quote, nearly twice as much as the first. Why?
Firstly, I trusted the man. He was efficient and on time. He looked professional. But so did the second man. The main reason I chose him was because he listened to what I wanted and more importantly, why I wanted it. He then challenged (in a nice way) what I was proposing and suggested a better solution.
I discussed this concept in Note to Sales 30-32;
Great sales people aren’t so much world-class investigators as they are world-class teachers. They win not by understanding their customers’ world as well as the customers know it themselves, but by actually knowing their part of the customers’ world better than their customers know it themselves, teaching them what they don’t know but should.
The old adage ‘the customer is always right’ is a nonsense. Almost by definition the customer is going to be worse informed than the supplier. Not only that but most customers are happy to be ‘taught’ and advised by an expert that they trust. The best salespeople know this, and rather than sell a product to the customer in a fixed way, they listen to the customer requirements and find a solution to fit. But more importantly along the way they educate them.