Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Changing the rules to get the sale

Companies often try to change the rules in their favor to get the sale.

Decades ago, I was involved in a car accident that was the fault of the other person. That person's insurance company required me to get two estimates for the work that needed to be done. I walked into one repair shop, and was greeted by big signs that pretty much said, "You don't need to get two estimates! Give us the job and we'll work things out with the insurance company!" The person that greeted me was equally hard sell - so hard sell that I walked out.

High Probability Selling tells a story with a happier ending. A customer had set up a six person task force, and the vendor asked to set up a meeting with the decision maker. The vendor arrived at the meeting with the decision maker, and got a surprise:

When we arrived, we were unexpectedly shown into a conference room next to the VP's office where all of the members of the team were waiting for us. On one wall there was a 5'X 8' white board which was being used as a decision matrix. It had the names of our leading competitors on the left, with the model numbers of their equipment and their specifications. Our company was listed on the left side at the bottom of the chart - we were the last one in - and there was room for our equipment and specifications to be listed. Across the top of the chart, a physical or performance specification and a "Factor of Importance" rating number headed each column for that spec. They asked us for the specifications of each model of machine we had....

For those who don't know, this is clearly NOT high probability selling.

So what did the vendor do?

I said that we understood we were to meet with the VP to discuss their plans and we weren't prepared to provide all of the machine specifications they required at this meeting. I said that we wanted to meet with each of them separately and learn what their most important concerns were, and that we would follow up with all of our physical and performance specifications within a few days. They agreed to meet with us separately, for about 40 minutes each.

The vendor did as promised, meeting with the task force members and THEN providing the data. And guess what?

[W]e noticed that our machines had the highest ratings on their decision matrix. We also noticed that the Factors of Importance rating numbers for the physical and performance specifications had been changed to favor our machines.

The customer then proceeded to make the "rational" decision to buy machines from that vendor.

No, this is not necessarily logical. But as Jake Kuramoto says, inconsistency rules, deal with it. (Kuramoto's example concerns open source advocates who own iPhones. See his 2008 post on the topic.)
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