19 Dec Pull Out The Stops – To Gain Commitments!
I finished presenting a proposal & pricing for a fairly large project that I am about to undertake. I have a verbal commitment from my customer, now what should I do in terms of the next step? Should I put together another proposal outlining the specific pricing that we looked at?
Assume the sale! You said you have a commitment from your customer, so proceed as if you do. If you put together another proposal, you may give your customer reason to second-guess the decision. The bottom line is, make it easy for your customer to move forward. For instance, if after reviewing your proposal the customer and you agree on certain aspects but not others, you may simply put together a letter of confirmation stating the work to be accomplished and a timeline. You may even say something like, “I’ll get started on the first phase of the project and in the meantime I’ll put together an outline of our agreement for our records.” Don’t say, “Now that we’ve had a chance to meet, let me revise the proposal and get it back to you for your approval.”
Salespeople have to be very careful not to become their own obstacles to gaining commitments. Even though I don’t like losing control of my billing, I appreciate that my satellite radio service automatically bills my credit card at time of renewal. They assume that you want to renew and I don’t think twice. Can you imagine how many sales they would lose if they asked for the commitment again at renewal time? On the other hand, every time I receive a renewal notice for products and services, I re-sell myself on whether or not I actually want or need the service. In some cases, I could be swayed either way. The same is true with your customers.
I recently received a call from a company selling network solutions. It just so happens that I am in the market for those services so I scheduled an appointment for a technician to diagnose my problem. However, instead of sending a technician, they sent a salesperson to tell me about their company and “gain a commitment before work would start.” They added an unnecessary step to the process causing me to question them. If they had sent a technician to take care of my immediate issue, they could have clarified bill rate and possibly secured a long-term customer. Instead of engaging me as a customer, it was just another sales call.
If you are nervous about starting work on a project, ask yourself if you really have a commitment? If you are unsure, review your letter of agreement with the customer and check the pulse by asking, “Does this meet your expectations?”
Convenience is often a major factor in gaining commitments in business. We recently asked a group of salespeople to share examples of how they “pull out the stops” by making it easy for the customer to do business. Here’s some of them:
After having difficulty getting customers to come in for spring service, a lawn & garden equipment dealership decided to set a schedule each spring to pick up customers’ lawnmowers for service. They bring the mower back to the dealership, conduct the required maintenance and deliver the lawnmower to the customer in ship shape and ready to go. The feedback they receive has been so positive that most customers don’t think twice about buying a second piece of equipment from the dealership.
An online clothing retailer offers real time on-line customer service help with a guarantee that if they don’t like the product when they receive it, they can return it with the pre-paid return label. It’s absolutely no risk. Because of the immediate personalized service, the company has very few returns.
A local farmer of organic produce, meats and eggs was experiencing less customer traffic. While customer feedback was always good, he was at the mercy of whatever foot traffic happened to stop by or read his road sign. He decided to offer online pre-orders. Now, customers can go online and order what they need for the upcoming week with the option of home delivery or pick up at the farmer’s market. The program has been so successful that the farm has nearly doubled its sales volume.
Realizing the mayhem that back to school shopping can cause for parents and the need to capture market share, a savvy retailer created pre-packaged school supply kits hand packed according to individual teacher specifications and delivered to children on the first day of school.
What can you do to “pull out the stops” in your business? A little brainstorming may make a huge difference in customer commitment.