Thinking Outside the Price
I was recently working with a client to help their sales team apply the consultative selling process in conversations with their clients and prospects. This salesperson was selling a trade show display to a new chief marketing officer (CMO). We created a live client scenario to demonstrate how to apply the consultative selling process.
The salesperson began the meeting by building rapport with this new CMO. He did a great job, congratulating the CMO on his new role and mentioning a mutual acquaintance to break the ice and quickly deepen the relationship. It worked well. The salesperson continued ... and quickly moved on to the topic of how much money he could save the CMO on his multiple trade shows across the country. The rest of the conversation was about price and saving money, including discussion about different trade show options to save money, and the idea of purchasing multiple trade show booths and storing them in major cities to save on shipping costs. The salesperson secured a follow-up meeting to show the CMO the different trade show displays.
In observing this sales conversation, I wondered why the salesperson had automatically assumed that price and saving money were the most important factors to the CMO. I asked the salesperson why he had chosen that path, and what other information he had gathered to lead him to this strategy. The salesperson replied, "Isn't that the most important factor with all buyers—especially chief marketing officers, who are trying to get more for their budget?"
I suggested we ask the CMO for his perspective. The CMO agreed that saving money was important, along with ROI. But he also pointed out that there were many other factors that were just as important—if not more important. Brand, presence at the trade show convention, and generating better quality leads at the trade show were all worth his consideration. The CMO continued to share his goals for his new role. He explained that creating a much stronger marketing presence within his company's industry and working more closely with the sales team to generate better quality leads to improve trade show ROI were very important. The CMO spent considerable time elaborating on his goals—which went far beyond saving money on shipping costs. Yes, price has been important and will continue to be important—but as we move into a stronger economy, marketers have new goals and budgets.
In the post-analysis of the sales conversation, the salesperson realized that, like so many sales people, he was focused on price and had made an automatic assumption. He also quickly realized that he was positioning himself like every other salesperson—and that he was leaving a much bigger opportunity on the table. More importantly, he realized an opportunity for transition. In positioning himself not as a transactional seller but as a valuable resource to this new CMO, he would be able to help the CMO create a stronger marketing presence at future trade shows.
Thought Provoking Question - TPQ: What purposeful conversation are you having with your clients and prospects? What powerful questions will you ask to move the conversation away from price to help CMOs achieve their 2011 marketing goals?