I was recently working with a young (43 is young to me, folks) salesman, Dan, who also supports 14 other salespeople, although he said he doesn’t officially manage them. The purpose of the call was to help him outline on paper what he referred to as his “sales playbook,” something he’d been asked to do by management. It didn’t take me long to go through the necessary steps with Dan, and he was pleased with the result.
After the purpose of the call was taken care of, we continued to talk about selling. At one point Dan brought up the subject of prospects who simply want to be given a price, nothing else, no other interaction whatsoever, and who send their request in an email. I’m sure his overall frustrating experience in these situations is similar to yours: acquiescing to these email requests for price, without having the opportunity to interact with a prospect, rarely leads to a sale. Dan wanted to know what I’d do in these situations.
I told him I’d create an email letter to respond to these price requests that would be designed to neutralize them, to convince the prospect that it was not in his/her best interest to just be given a price without allowing me (any salesperson) to ask the necessary questions to ascertain the vital information necessary to serve the prospect in the professional manner I demand of myself. It would be something like this:
Dear (name of prospect),
Thank you for your interest in [specific product or service]; it’s much appreciated. However, simply giving you a price without being able to talk to you, without being able to ask you the vital questions necessary to completely understand your particular situation, your specific wants, needs, and problems that you’d give almost anything to solve, is in neither of our best interests. All you’ll receive is a number, which will not differentiate any of the other vitally important aspects of why you should (or shouldn’t; at this point it’s impossible to know) do business with me and [name of my/your company], and I won’t get the opportunity to serve you in the highly professional manner that I demand of myself. That’s just not how I do business, [name of individual]. If, however, you’ll give me the opportunity to interview you, to discover if doing business with me and [name of my/your company] is the right choice for you, well, I believe that’s time you’ll find is well spent and worthwhile. I hope you’ll give me that opportunity. I’ll tell you this flat out: If at any point you think your precious time is being wasted, I’ll shut up and shake your hand.
I take a lot of pride in how I serve my clients [or “customers”; whichever fits], how I better their lives. If that’s the kind of individual you enjoy doing business with—someone you can completely count on 100% of the time–I’m someone you want to get to know. If, however, you just want a price without the kind of professional interaction I’ve described, I’m sure there are plenty of other “salespeople” who will accommodate you.
Very respectfully yours,
Of course, to send out an email letter like this, you have to be the real deal, and you have to believe in yourself and be absolutely fearless. You have to be confident that it’ll produce far more business for you than just giving a price will. It will, by the way.
So, is that you? If so, feel free to use the letter. If it isn’t, just keep giving them price and live with the disappointment.
Robert Terson has been a sales professional and entrepreneur his entire adult life. He retired from his advertising company in 2010 after 38 years in business. Today, Bob writes, speaks and generously shares his time with others. Bob also does some LIMITED coaching and training. He lives in suburban Chicago with his wonderful wife Nicki. He blogs regularly at SellingFearlessly.com and you can follow Bob on twitter @RobertTerson and LinkedIn. His book “Selling Fearlessly“, released in October 2012, has received rave reviews and is available at Amazon.com