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How do you handle it when your customer wants to “shop around?”

Posted by Michael Douglas on 6/2/16 1:30 PM

When I was about 10 years old, we put new carpet in the house.  Anyone that grew up in the 80s in the Dayton/Springfield Ohio area probably heard the commercials for Buddy’s Carpet Barn and Bryant Brothers.  I still have the “Forget the others, go to Bryan Brothers jingle” in my head.  

So we go to Bryant Brothers first.  I still remember this.  The sales lady walks us through the store, showing us samples; I’m really just along for the ride.  But I remember the up sell attempts at thicker pad, stain treatment, etc.  We eventually got to a price.  My Mom and Steve looked at each, then looked at me, back to each other, then the sales lady.  “Thanks, we want to go over to Buddy’s to see what they have."

Here’s the fatal mistake the sales lady made…she tried to talk us out of it.

“Don’t do that, it will be a waste of your time.  We have the lowest prices in town."

She already lost.

Steve looked at me on the way out the door and told me something I never forgot:

“If they really were the lowest price then she would not have not tried to talk us out of leaving.  She also assumed that price was the only thing we cared about."


I’m sure you know what happened next.  We went to Buddy’s Carpet Barn; got a better quality carpet and it ended up being cheaper.  We took the savings and had a nice lunch at Chi Chi’s—with fried ice cream.  Remember Chi-Chi’s?

I recently had a prospective client tell me they were checking out my competition.  I remembered this childhood lesson.  Here’s how the conversation went:

Them: "We can make the business case, but we’ve been approached by others who offer similar solutions."

Me: "If you think you can get everything that you need somewhere else, then you owe it to yourself and your company to do the due diligence.  I’ll wait."

Them: “Huh?  You aren’t going to try and stop me?"

Me:  “I know how other companies are.  How other companies try to get new customers.  I’m a little different.  You have seen the case studies and business cases that we have done with other companies.  Maybe you have even talked to a few of our customers?  In each of those, we all understood what the value and benefit was.  It sounds like this is still difficult for you to quantify?  I would rather have full confidence that you will be successful in getting the ROI you expect than getting a deal done in haste."

Them: “When can you get down here?"

If you read this article then you know why I had the confidence to do this.  When you are totally transparent with people, you can expect the same from them.  Also, your customer will always drive the sales process faster than you can, if they are in control.  

How would you have handled it? Are there invisible obstacles preventing you from doing what you know you should, but just can't seem to?

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Topics: sales coaching, sales conversations