A lot of thought provoking insight comes when you interact with people. People who play various roles: Spouse, parent, leader, subordinate, fellow citizen. As a sales person, the one fundamental role that stays with me is that of a customer. Hardened sales leaders will concur that everyone you meet is a customer and you are always selling.
So then what happens when the customer is being unreasonable? When the customer is bullying you into delivering free services? Or cutting your price way below your cost, just because he’s the bigger guy? What happens when the customer ignores the value of the products or services you deliver and evaluates them as a commodity?
You say NO !!!
Agreed, you may not get the business. Agreed, you may let your competitor win. Agreed, you might fall short of your target this quarter. Agreed, the customer will not want to have anything to do with you henceforth.
The number one reason why you would want to risk all of the above is that you BELIEVE you have something of value to offer. If you believe your product or service is differentiated from its competitors, its relatively easy to avoid succumbing to unreasonable demands from customers.
I do not advocate walking away from every deal that starts to show some sign of trouble. I am assuming you have done everything to ensure that the uniqueness of your product is conveyed to the customer. A detailed, logical comparison between your offering and the competitors convinces most buyers. But to those few customers who will not see reason and unreasonably negotiate like its an agenda, its always noble to shake hands and walk away.
Three things happen here:
You leave with your differentiation and market position intact. You did not succumb to becoming a commodity and hence decrease your chances of being treated as one. Sometimes being a snob is good.
The customer will gain respect for you. When such a buyer is playing unreasonable, she’s not going to expect you to be reasonable and mature. When you walk away from the table, the buyer will be left with an impression that he is missing out on something. Doubt can be good.
Chances are you get what you pay for. If the competitor vendor is going to win the deal on unreasonable terms, 95% of the time, quality will suffer. So the next time the buyer looks for a product or service, they will remember the one vendor who refused to compromise on the product or service they believed in.
But, the primary requirement for taking this stand is your unwavering belief that your product or service is unique and differentiated and can bring genuine value to the buyer.
Comments from readers, especially from the buyer side of the table, are welcome.