Last week I received many emails requesting help after my offer to send along scenarios where readers were “stumped”. This email should benefit most readers:

“Dear Dave,

I currently work for a manufacturer that makes high end metal signs, I sell our products, based on clients designs, to distributors such as sign companies, awards shops, and online catalogs. Like all companies we have competition. We are known as having the highest quality products but our turnaround is twice as long as others and our prices are 20% – 30% higher. When I ask my customers; what will it take to earn your business? They reply quicker turnaround and more competitive pricing. These are two factors that I can’t control because the company I work for is not interested in being competitive to shorten margins or quality. When I respond with the statement that we are known for our quality and we stand behind our products without question, our distributors say, yes, but our customer don’t know the difference most of the time and they need the product quickly. What is a good statement to make at this point to earn future business?”

My Response:

Yours is simply a matter of developing the ability to more effectively sell value. First, you should stop asking what it will take to earn their business. That question just begs them to say faster turn-around and lower prices. Your quality means nothing to them until they express their frustration with others’ lack of quality. Therefore, you should try to uncover problems they have experienced with other suppliers. In Baseline Selling – How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball, the chapter on Getting to 2nd base explains how to do this in great detail. Pay particular attention to the Infield Why Rule, The Hidden Ball Trick and the S.O.B. Quality. You’ll be a pro after reading, applying and practicing the information contained in that chapter.

For example, you should be asking questions like, “what’s the single biggest frustration you have with metal signs and the companies that provide them?”

If they say price and/or turnaround, use that as an example to say, “In my experience, when companies like yours are totally happy with the attention and quality they’re getting from their suppliers, they don’t look for better prices. So why would you say that?”

Then, once you have them sharing their frustrations, you can ask, “and are you willing to pay a little more and wait a little longer to fix that problem once and for all?”