Manage episode 357932254 series 2952524
Arguing with buyers is a slippery slope to sales oblivion. “I told him off and made him fly straight”, is a leap into seller delusion. In Japan, the buyer isn’t King, but GOD. The seller is in no position to tell the buyer anything here, let alone start arguing the point. The upshot is that Japanese salespeople, for the most part, are very weak in the face of the buyer’s remonstrations. We often hear from our clients that they are concerned that their salespeople don’t stand up for the brand, the deal, the price and just roll over straight away whenever the buyer pushes back. This raises a prickly point about how do we counter buyer assertions, which will make our sales job difficult or impossible, if unanswered?
We will always know a lot more than the buyer about our firm, our goods and services and our capacity to become a trusted partner for them. They will get things wrong for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they will hear something in the market from our rivals, disparaging our financial state or our quality guarantees. Maybe they are just suspicious of salespeople, based on hard won experience and they will challenge everything we purport. Maybe they are analytical personality types, who won’t consider any numbers short of three decimal places and are hard to convince.
When we get the pushback, it triggers a primeval, emotional chemical reaction where the brain starts pumping adrenaline into the body for flight or fight. Because we need to make this sale, we always choose fight. What comes out of our mouth next is critical and we absolutely cannot leave that to whim or chance. We have to be in total control and choose our next words extremely carefully. GOD doesn’t brook impertinent salespeople arguing with them.
If the buyer is mistaken in what they say, there is no point in trying to correct them directly. Never say, “no, that isn’t the case, in fact….”. We are better to take the scenic route and go around the claim. We know that what they have said is factually incorrect and that we can prove it. The way to introduce some truth into the discussion is to ask them a “what if” question. This would be, “What if “x” wasn’t the case, would that make it easier for you to consider the widget for your firm?’”. What we want them to do is to admit that if “x” wasn’t a problem, then they can proceed to consider our offer.
Once we get that grudging admission, we can then lay on the evidence and proof. Again, we need to be circular in our language. “For example, “I understand the issue with “x” and based on research published in “y”, it seems to indicate that this previous flaw has been resolved and is no longer an issue. As far as our other clients go, we are getting feedback that they are very happy with the new version and are not experiencing any problems. Does that help to remove this “x” issue from your concerns?”.
Another approach would be to use the weight of numbers against them. We can say, “We have supplied “x” to over a hundred clients so far and for the last two years we haven’t seen any reoccurrence of that previous problem, after we issued a new and corrected version. It would seem the previous problem has been well and truly resolved. Are there any other issues beside this one, which are a concern for you?”. We just gracefully glide past that issue they raised and move them along the sales cycle, to expose any other issues which until now may have remained hidden. The presumption is that if there have been no issues for other clients, then this client can relax about it too.
What if the client objects to the new pricing, especially if the pricing has gone up of late? We need a solid strategy for dealing with that pushback. As with any objection, we cushion first to stop the chemical reaction in us brimming to the surface and we start arguing that the price is just fine and dandy, thank you very much. We just say something quite neutral such as, “budgeting is always a critical element in business”. That little aside gives us time to regroup mentally and think carefully about what we say next. The only thing we should say next is, “May I ask you why you say that?”. We don’t yet know the context of their objection and we cannot answer them, until we have that vital information.
Once we know the detail of their concern we can work on the angle of approach. We might agree with it. “Yes, the prices have gone up quite quickly and it is not just us, the whole industry is reeling from the war in Europe raising energy input costs, combined with the supply chain confusion and the subsequent major uptick in costs to get things to Japan. At the moment this is where we all are, but it won’t last forever and in the future we can get back to some greater normality. In the meantime, we have supply and you have mentioned to me that you have a need and demand for our widget , so shall we proceed?”. We are using a “third party” argument here to indirectly say, “it isn’t us being greedy, this is just how the world is and we all have to accept it, including you, the buyer”. We make ourselves a small target and instead stress the macro-economic environment as being the trouble source.
The key is to have thought all of this out before the meeting, so we are never caught cushion less, flat footed and struggling for a suitable answer to the buyer. If we are well organised, we never need fear buyers who push back hard and seem spoiling for an argument.