“If an honest evaluation delivers a score of 90 points or less,” the letter says, “don’t you owe it to yourself and your company to take a more in-depth look at (my company)?” Believe me, it can be quite eye opening to show people that their current supplier really earns something less than an “A” grade overall.
When you do get to speak with the decision maker, please don’t use that time to make a canned presentation. You’ll be much better off with a discovery process, asking questions to determine exactly what your prospect wants and needs—looking especially for wants or needs that are not being fully met by the current supplier. My favorite question is this one: “Is there anything, no matter how small, that you would change if you could?”
Let’s say that you discover some minor service issues. For example: “It would be nice if I could count on hearing back from my salesperson within an hour when I leave him a message.” You certainly wouldn’t want to say: “I can’t believe that jerk makes you wait that long!” But how about this: “I can’t promise that either, at least not 100% of the time. But here’s what I can do. I’ll give you my cell number and also my CSR’s direct line. One of us should be able to get back to you within an hour, and I’ll make sure she knows that you’re a very high priority. I’ll tell her that we’re trying to win your business by outperforming someone who’s pretty good, so we have to be very good!”
Please understand that the key here is to find some level of dissatisfaction, and then put forth a positive plan to change it. If the choice is between “good” and “better,” I think most people would prefer “better.” Now, granted, price may play a role in all of this. Some people will choose “good” at a lower price over “better” at a premium price, but “better” is really the only platform you have for selling at a premium price.
It’s worth noting that my “favorite question” reflects a change from my training. All the way back in my first selling job, I was taught to ask question two above: “What exactly do you like about them?” I had an epiphany one day, though, when I realized that I was just giving my prospects an opportunity to brag about their current supplier.
Yes, there’s value in knowing what they like in another supplier, but that only positions you to say: “Well, I can do that too.” I’d rather learn what they don’t like, so I can say: “I think I can do that better!”