A few years ago my wife wanted and needed a new car. She had been talking about a full size SUV rather than another sedan. The good news was that it was early fall and time for the change of model year, meaning a good chance for a deep discount. The bad news was that for the first time in history gasoline was over $4 per gallon. We discussed it and decided a perfect storm had been created for us to go ahead and purchase the vehicle, because we felt that gas prices would come back down to reasonable levels within a few months.
After some Internet shopping, we found the exact vehicle she wanted at a dealership about 75 miles away from our home. Because the economy was struggling badly and fuel prices were so high, we correctly surmised that big SUV’s were probably being shunned by most buyers.
We were blessed to be able to pay cash for the vehicle, and so we developed our buying strategy before leaving home. We determined a pretty ridiculous cash drive-off price that we were willing to pay, and I wrote a check for that amount and stuck it in my shirt pocket.
When we arrived at the dealership, Archie (the salesman) was r-e-a-l-l-y glad to meet us. If someone had fired a shotgun in that showroom that Saturday, no one would have been hurt. We told Archie about the vehicle we were interested in, test-drove it, and confirmed to each other that was the one we wanted.
Archie escorted us into his office with a smile. I quietly told Archie that we weren’t going to do the dance. I shared with him that he needed to sell that vehicle worse than we needed to buy it. I know that sounded pretty crass, but I wanted to make sure he got it. I pulled the check from my pocket and handed it to him, telling him that was our drive-off offer.
He started squirming and said, “Mr. Robinson, I can’t sell you that vehicle for that price.”
As I stood up I calmly responded with, “I understand, so just give me back the check.”
I think that’s when it actually hit him that we were very serious and that he only had one shot to make a deal. He asked us to at least give him a couple of minutes to consult with his manager, although he reaffirmed a second time that he didn’t see any way that our offer would be accepted.
It was only a couple of minutes later when Mr. Manager came to Archie’s cubicle. He introduced himself and then smiled and said that it was our lucky day. He went on to say that although they would lose money on the deal (not totally convinced about that), he was going to accept it because the dealership hadn’t sold a car in three days and the whole place needed an emotional boost. A few minutes later we drove off having completed a great purchase.
Because Archie was willing to go through the motions of a third-party manager request over our ridiculous offer, he ended up making a few bucks that otherwise wouldn’t have come his way.
For you there will also be times when buyers feel they should get better terms or a better price that is above your pay grade. When this happens you’ve got nothing to lose by asking management to weigh in, plus when you do, you also elevate your buyers’ feeling of importance.
I’ve learned over the years not to turn down anything but my collar, meaning I fight to close every sale, regardless of size, without letting ego get in the way. Therefore, if you’ve done everything possible and still can’t close the prospect, don’t be shy about asking your manager for a little help, but only after completing two prerequisites.
First, realize you shouldn’t jump up and call the boss just because a buyer says she wants a better price, as a third party call is a last resort technique. Secondly, before you agree to make the call, you should position your buyer to commit to purchase if your manager resolves whatever the sticking point is. If you don’t, you are unconsciously positioning your buyer to ask for further concessions, even if your manager compromises.
Here is an example of how to prepare a buyer for a TPC. Let’s assume you have already negotiated and discounted to your authorized limit of $11,000, but the customer is holding firm and demanding $10,250. You might say something like this:
“I don’t have the authority to go below $11,000. If you are serious about the purchase I will be glad to call my Operations Manager, since she is the final authority, but before I call, let me make sure I’ve got this straight. What you are saying is, if she agrees to accept $10,250, you will sign the agreement today, and we can schedule delivery for Thursday, is that correct”?
If your buyer agrees and commits, THEN call your manager and restate the commitment on the phone, within earshot of the buyer, maybe like this:
“Boss I am here with Ms. Soteropoulus, the purchasing agent at Bearings “R” Us, and she really wants this deal to work. She has refused my bottom-line $11,000 price but did promise that if you would accept $10,250 she would sign the agreement now and take delivery Thursday. Will you approve that?”
When you abide by an open-and-shut process like this, your manager won’t get ambushed by a let’s make a deal buyer. The manager either accepts or rejects the counter offer, but your positioning doesn’t give them an opportunity to come back and ask for more.
On the other hand, if buyers won’t agree upfront to purchase conditionally, you would be crazy to even initiate a TPC. You must always be fair but firm; NO BUYER COMMITMENT = NO TPC!
Try it, you’ll like it. It won’t always go your way, but just like Archie the car salesman, a final closing attempt like that will occasionally get you a sale that you otherwise would miss.
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Hank Huvaere, Sr. Account Exec., Unifirst Corp., Grand Rapids, MI. commenting on a recent Selling Point post stated, “Doug this is a very inspiring story filled with anecdotes that can help all of us in this busy world we find ourselves in each day. Your outlook on life is tremendous – just like your weekly “bits” of information are. Knowing they come from someone that has walked in our shoes means all that much more.” Not a FREE Selling Point subscriber? Find the missing link HERE.
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