GET OFF MY BACK
by Martin Grunstein
Those who’ve been in business a while will appreciate that in the last five to ten years more people are putting their “two cents worth” into buying decisions than ever before. And many of them have no expertise in the area in which they are asserting their influence.
For example, CFOs are telling people in all departments to cut costs; husbands and wives are telling each other to trim their budget on “non-essential” items (and what one person calls non-essential is very different from what the other calls non-essential); employees are having to justify to management why they are making purchases that used to be automatic – these could be everything from the type of motor car they receive as part of their package to chocolate biscuits in the coffee room.
So, as a salesperson, in many cases the greatest obstacle to making sales at satisfactory margin is a person you don’t even get to see!
So what do you do?
Most businesses have dropped price as a strategy and claimed it’s just a part of the “tough times” mentality and that skinnier margins are a fact of modern business life.
I beg to differ!
I believe the correct strategy is to give the customer reasons to get the other person off their back even if they don’t tell you they have someone else to get off their back (and in most cases they won’t tell you).
Let me relate to you a story from my own consumer experience that illustrates the point.
Several years ago I was walking through a Sydney shopping centre with my wife and I came across a franchise called the Muffin Break. Now, Muffin Break sells muffins that are full of fat and sweet stuff and other rotten things………and I wanted one! But I had a problem in that my wife wasn't going to let me have one.
I was resigned to missing out on this wonderful taste sensation when I noticed a sign that said “NO CHOLESTEROL, HIGH FIBRE, LOW SALT”(none of which matter to me but those things are important to my wife, she’s a health professional) so I said to my wife in my most timid voice “Look darling, no cholesterol, high fibre, low salt. I think those muffins are good for me”. And after a short pause, my wife said “in that case, dear, you may have one”. And I felt terrific because not only did I get to enjoy the muffin but I out argued my wife (a rare occurrence which I savoured more than the muffin itself).
I reckon that sign is the difference between whether the franchise owner takes home $20,000 a year or $120,000 a year because it gives me the reasons to get the other person off my back without me having to ask for them. It’s not just my wife and myself, it could be the young person on a diet saying to themselves (another person we have to get off our backs is our own self!) “high fibre, low salt, I can justify it”. Or the elderly couple who’ve just come from the doctor after finding out they have sky high cholesterol so they see the low cholesterol sign and they buy the muffins. Now, you and I and the franchise owner knows the fat in those muffins will kill them in a fortnight but making the sale is all about giving people reasons to justify to themselves and others at point of purchase.
Now, let me turn this around and tell you how I use this concept in my business experience to sell my services.
Since the mid-nineties I have been offering twelve months marketing consulting, FREE OF CHARGE, to all clients who book me to speak, even if it’s just one presentation at a conference. I write articles for their newsletters; I critique the “reasons why” they brainstorm after the session I run with them; I am even happy to critique their copy for their print advertising. I promise to reply to every email I receive (or faxes in the olden days) and do all I can to contribute to their bottom line even when I’m not speaking.
Why do I do this?
Simple. I get much of my business, in fact, most of it, from someone in a seminar audience who goes back to their boss and says very enthusiastically “we should get Martin to speak at our conference”. When they find out how much it’s going to cost the boss says something like “we’re not paying that much money for an hour”.
The person from the audience can then say “we don’t just get Martin for an hour, we get him for a year!” They then explain the free consulting and in many cases the boss can justify my fee over a year but he/she can’t justify it over an hour.
Two factors come into play that work in my favour.
Firstly, I get paid up front so I don’t have to wait a year for my cheque and, secondly, most of my clients NEVER take up the offer of the consulting – it is just a reason to justify the expenditure. Ironically, the ones who do take up the consulting are my best clients and I get more business and referrals from them so I win either way. But giving people reasons to get their bosses off their backs has been instrumental in winning me some terrific jobs that I don’t think I would have otherwise have won.
Another very important thing from a marketing point of view is the fact that after doing this automatically for so many years I have worked out that the marketing consulting is only critical in the purchase decision to about 25% of prospective clients BUT I DON’T KNOW WHICH 25%, SO I TELL EVERYBODY.
I can’t emphasis enough the importance of giving everybody all the “reasons why” even if they tell you they don’t have anybody they have to get off their back because sometimes their ego prevents them from telling you the truth. I say in seminars that some of the people who tell you that they make all the decisions are the same people who have to go home and ask their wives if they can come out and play with you!
These days we have to give people ten, fifteen, twenty “reasons why” because two are going to matter to me and a different two will matter to my boss and if you don’t get the two that matter to my boss into the equation, you may miss out on the sale or have to discount your price significantly to get it.
Martin Grunstein’s work with over 500 Australasian companies across over 100 industries has made him Australia’s most in-demand speaker on Outstanding Customer Service. He is contactable on (02) 96623322 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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