G: How did you manage to avoid all concession to me?
J: I’ll start from afar. All my terms were reasonable, and quite adequate, weren’t they?
G: It’s true. You showed me all the prices, they were very modest, although they exceeded our budget. You refused to receive payment 30 days after the completion of all work, this can also be understood, you need to live on something. And even the fact that your technology is completely new does not mean that it is inefficient.
But usually sellers, in response to the buyer's objections, either bargain, trying to defend their terms as much as possible, or make concessions. You behaved in totally different way!
J: Yes. I perfectly understand your point. When you said that my price was six times higher than your training budget, you hinted me that I should be more modest, agree on the planned budget or postpone this conversation until better times when a larger budget is planned, right?
G: Honestly, I did not think about lowering the price, I just could not go beyond the budget.
J: I am not reading your mind. I say what a seller hears when buyer says that the budget is much lower than the suggested price. Either postpone it for later or drop the price.
When the buyer doubts whether he should get involved with something new and untested, the seller hears: you need to test this, the risk should be yours. The buyer expects a counteroffer from the seller: we will carry out a “pilot” project for free or much cheaper, we share the risk.
Well, when the buyer declares that he can pay only Net-30, this is a frank offer to share the risk, too. If the product turns out to be of poor quality, we will take a look and decide whether it is worth paying.
G: Why so straightforward and rude? No need to picture us as arrogant monsters!
J: I do not say, buyer is an arrogant monster. I just tell how the seller hears the objection. Please, note that all these hints work only in one direction: pay less and shift all risk onto the supplier’s shoulders. I understand that this is how the buyer protects his business. But seller’s business is not a charity, either. If the seller agrees to a lower payment, he gives alms to the buyer company from his own wallet. By taking on most of the risk, he does the same. So, my small business makes a charitable contribution to the thick wallet of a large company out of my own skinny wallet. Is that fair?
G: Well, if you put it this way... I never thought of it from this standpoint... But there really is something in it. If you see it like that, then, of course, this is unfair.
J: That’s my point. We believe that sales should be mutually beneficial, and therefore it should involve no concessions. Concession is not beneficial to the one who does it, this is obvious. Concession is also ultimately bad to those who receive it. This is not so obvious, but practice shows that it is so. We will talk more about this.
G: Good. But how do you manage not to make such concessions?
J: To begin with, I do not perceive your terms as “objections”. Objection must be overcome, and this can be done in three ways: convince, concede or deceive the buyer. This is a fight between seller and buyer, but there are no winners in it. The defeated side feels bad, and the victorious party understands that it has acted dishonorably. One could build neither trust nor good long-term relationships on this basis. But trust and a long-term relationship are beneficial to both parties. Therefore, in such a fight, both sides lose.
Let’s look at objection from another point of view: the buyer wants to buy the offered product, but he is somehow dissatisfied with the terms proposed by the seller. Why? If he buys on seller’s terms, he will be in big trouble. He does not want to talk about this trouble, as people say, “let sleeping dogs lie.” What is he saying? He is concerned. Due to the fact that our method is new and untested, something bad could happen. And if we concede, maybe, nothing will happen. What to do with buyer’s fear? We need to handle it. The seller and the buyer can handle it together, in cooperation. Then trust can be established, and good relations for long periods are possible.
Now, what to do with concern. A threat, a nuisance lies behind every concern. Trouble can happen either with the company or with the buyer. If the buyer finds how to avoid this threat he can forget about his concern, right? Moreover, if the buyer uses the proposed product to avoid the threat, it’s even better! Then, he has a solid reason to buy this particular product.
G: Dashingly twisted, but logical!
J: Let's see how this approach was applied to your concern that the novelty of our technology poses a risk to your company.
If I let you fixate on the novelty, I would have to agree for a free “pilot” project, and then wait for a long time for its results. Moreover, these results are hardly dependent on me and my efforts. More often than not, the “pilot” project has no continuation, alas. Both sides would lose from the “pilot” project approach: I would do the work for nothing, while you would miss the opportunity to utilize the new technology and benefit from it.
I just made this about the very threat that you feared. Here I used the trouble detection algorithm. I tried to find out what terrible thing would happen to the company or to you if my services would be ordered despite your concern. Then I needed to find out what events would lead to this trouble. For most types of troubles, I know the typical “stories” of their occurrence. If it turned out that a particular trouble does not belong to any of these types, I would ask you to tell me how it can happen.
My next step is to find how to prevent this threat. For this purpose, I highlight the main events in the story of trouble occurrence, and then we discuss how to avoid each of them. The trouble prevention algorithm begins working.
Answers to the questions, “How to avoid this event?” are formulated in a general way. Now you need to use the product features to make each answer a realistic action. The last step is to assemble the solution from these actions. Sometimes, several solutions are produced. Then, you should select the one that suits you best.
That's the whole logic of handling the objection: take an objection as a concern – identify the threat that concerns the buyer – reveal the story of threat occurrence – break this story down into individual events – find how to prevent each event – use the features of the product to find the realistic actions – assemble a solution. As a result, you can prevent the threat, and the concern does not matter anymore. The seller does not need to make a concession, and the buyer finds new reasons why to buy this particular product. This is a win-win sale, isn't it?
Dialogue 2. Talking about Technology | 13 Dialogues on Win-Win Sales | Why Didn’t Anyone Think of This Before You?