| November 16, 2021
The back cover of the magazine featured an image of an unhappy-looking salesman, carrying his belongings out of the office in a box. “Good News,” the headline read, “he closed the deal. Bad news, he gave all the profit away.”
The ad continued: "Come to the Karrass Negotiating Seminar, because you don't get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate."
I've seen Karrass ads in hundreds of airline magazines over the years. This was a new version, but the tag line is always the same. And it's always true. The ability to negotiate effectively goes a long way toward determining whether you "win" or "lose" in business.
Obstacle vs. Opportunity
Let’s think about winning versus losing, though. As the ad points out, giving away all of your profit is not a win. And while “all” may not be an everyday occurrence, it’s been my experience that most printing sales negotiations do end up with the seller giving up more than the buyer.
So how do we change that? Let’s start with a change in attitude. Let’s start thinking of price objections not as obstacles, but as opportunities. The buyer says, “I don’t want to pay your price.” This is your opportunity to say, “I understand, but let me tell you why you should!”
An Important Observation
I’ve found that most people will pay what they have to in order to get what they want or what they need. Here’s the complicating factor: most people don’t know how much it actually costs to get what they want or need. They do know how to look at two numbers and recognize which one is lower, and that’s the price they generally want to pay.
Let me put that another way. No one wants to pay more than they have to for anything, so the lower price is always more desirable. It may not be the best price, however, and that’s where your opportunity lies. Because best, in this context, should be defined as the lowest price that will ensure that the buyer gets what they want or need. Quality has a role in that definition, as does reliability and dependability. Quality is also the solution to a problem, the relief for pain or the insurance against risk.
But here’s a key point. There has to be a problem, pain or risk to make this negotiation strategy work. One of my clients recently defended his price by telling his prospect about his company’s reputation for quality. The prospect replied, “I have no problem with the quality I’m getting now.”
This might have been a whole different story if a needs/wants assessment had determined that quality was in fact a problem. I’ve never been to a Karrass seminar, but I’d bet they teach how important it is to ask all the right questions in advance of quoting a price.
Don’t stop at “how many?” and “when do you need them?” If you ever have to negotiate, you also want to know “what could go wrong?” Because preventing that from happening has value, and it may very well be enough value to justify a higher price.
Marketing and Sales Commentary