EARLY GUERILLA MARKETING TACTICS OF SALESFORCE.COM

EARLY GUERILLA MARKETING TACTICS OF SALESFORCE.COM

Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.

Stand out with a purpose

In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.

The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.

PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.

Aim for potential end users

Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.

In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.

Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.

Vulture and not venture capital

Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.

The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.

Lessons for startups

The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.

Developing Business and Managing Sales: It is a Nightmare

Developing Business and Managing Sales: It is a Nightmare

The vexing question of every Sales Manager and Business Development Manager who is newly appointed is this: “What am I supposed to do and not do”?

Managing sales and developing business at the same time can be a nightmare for a large organization. Each role is a humungous task in itself. Combining the both together and expecting one person to handle both is not only practically difficult but also inefficient. Small business owners may not agree to this as more often than not they have just one person who wears both these hats, and they find it cost-efficient too. That may work out initially for a start-up or a mom and pop store, but in the long run, when the business grows to attain maximum scalability the firm must segregate the two tasks and appoint a Sales Manager as well as a Business Development Manager to perform two different kinds of jobs. Often the difficulty in doing so arises because of the ambiguity in the roles played by both employees who hold different titles. Business owners and managers themselves are confused as to what they are supposed to do.

The roles that are unique to a Business Development Manager are the following:

  • Building the right product-market mix
  • Determining whether the product meets the need of the client
  • Expanding the reach of the goods to increase revenue
  • Recommending timely adjustments to products
  • Improving products to fill customer requirements
  • Informing clients about new developments in the products
  • Dealing with prospects unsatisfied with the products
  • Responding to negative press about the products
  • Pitching goods and services in new market segments
  • Studying the competitive landscape in the industry
  • Forming strategic partnerships with other businesses
  • Segmenting the target customer market
  • Prioritizing market segments or key accounts
  • Identifying various routes to market
  • Creating strategies to expand company’s current markets
  • Researching markets to find new ones
  • Planning and overseeing new market initiatives
  • Attending conferences, meetings, and industry events
  • Researching companies to hunt leads
  • Exploring, prospecting, and qualifying leads
  • Researching who makes decisions about purchasing
  • Determining whether a lead is ready to buy
  • Bringing in enough qualified leads to generate business
  • Attracting customers to the front door of the building
  • Maintaining fruitful relationships with existing customers
  • Contacting potential customers to establish rapport
  • Investigating if the price matches the ideal buyer’s affordability
  • Negotiating prices with manufacturers and distributors
  • Developing quotes and proposals to new partners
  • Identifying new opportunities and methods for sales campaigns
  • Generating demand and maximizing sales
  • Writing reports and providing feedback to upper management
  • Creating high-level vision and developing relevant strategies
  • Understanding the fundamental drivers of the business
  • Making wise decisions in pursuit of long-term value
  • Determining when and where to scale the business
  • Gathering data to validate paths to achieve business goals
  • Identifying and executing new areas of business
  • Weighing how changes affect the entire company
  • Identifying signals that promise greater opportunity
  • Assessing trade-offs between opportunities vs. risks
  • Generating new channels to reach customers
  • Producing long-term growth and profitability
  • Planning operations and strategic marketing with top executives
  • Coordinating with departments for new account setups

The roles that are explicit to a Sales Manager are the following:

  • Demonstrating the product features
  • Overseeing the distribution of products
  • Maintaining appropriate inventory levels
  • Gauging customer’s product preferences
  • Monitoring market trends to tweak sales efforts
  • Weighing how changes affect sales territories
  • Taking deals across the finish lines
  • Selling the product to the identified customer
  • Convincing customer to go from the door to cash register
  • Up-selling and cross-selling to existing clients
  • Offering post-purchase service and support
  • Resolving customer complaints regarding sales and service
  • Optimizing existing channel to reach more customers
  • Selling to customers in new territories
  • Explaining price breakdowns to prospective customers
  • Informing payment terms to end-users
  • Developing pricing schedules and rates
  • Developing promotional ideas and materials
  • Determining discounts and special pricing plans
  • Tracking sales team metrics and reporting to leadership
  • Implementing sales plans based on company policies
  • Developing sales strategy to achieve organizational goals
  • Preparing and approving budgets and expenditures
  • Coordinating and monitoring online sales activities
  • Meeting business revenue targets
  • Focusing exclusively on driving revenue
  • Following up on business leads on a regular basis
  • Investigating lost sales and customer accounts
  • Tracking, interpreting and collating sales figures
  • Maintaining data and records for future reference
  • Formulating sales policies and procedures
  • Executing and measuring sales plan
  • Hiring, training and leading sales professionals
  • Managing team of sales staff and assign territories
  • Developing field sales action plans
  • Collaborating with IT to improve the sales technology
  • Developing direct sales techniques for the sales force
  • Creating incentives for representatives
  • Generating ideas for sales motivational initiatives
  • Executing measures when performance deviates
  • Advising representatives on ways to improve performance
  • Demonstrating excellent team-building skills
  • Transforming sales team into a high-performing one
  • Determining ways to streamline and improve the sales process
  • Keeping up to date with products and competitors

Business Development Manager is responsible for creating long-term value for the business while a Sales Manager is supposed to maximize sales. A good analogy is thus: A Business Development Manager gets the customer to the door, and a Sales Manager takes the customer from the door to the cash register. A Business Development Manager who is busy looking over the competitive landscape to spot trends and opportunities does not have time to service the clients. It is the job of the Sales Manager to take care of the prospect. Hence the separation between the two roles.
Photo Credit: Olu Eletu

BENEFITS, NOT FEATURES: 30 QUOTES FROM FAMOUS PEOPLE

BENEFITS, NOT FEATURES: 30 QUOTES FROM FAMOUS PEOPLE

BENEFITS, NOT FEATURES: 30 QUOTES

  • Reid Hoffman: Founder, LinkedIn

If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.

  • Tim Cook

A great product isn’t just a collection of features. It’s how it all works together.

  • Marco Arment: Founder, Instapaper

Making a product better often requires removing features.

  • Kathy Sierra

The secret to building great products is not creating awesome features, it’s to make users awesome.

  • Jay Abraham

Sell the benefits, not your company or the product. People buy results, not features.

  • Dave McClure: Founder, 500 Startups

Features are like having sex. You make one mistake and you have to support it for life.

  • Paul Buchheit

Pick three key attributes or features, get those things very, very right, and then forget about everything else … By focusing on only a few core features in the first version, you are forced to find the true essence and value of the product.

  • John Wesley

Our old system was just not able to accommodate our newest product features. Our goal was to get a stable, scalable, system that would help us speed new products to market.

  • Kevin Systrom

The best feature is less featureless.

  • Douglas Crockford

We see a lot of feature-driven product design in which the cost of features is not properly accounted. Features can have a negative value to customers because they make the products more difficult to understand and use. We are finding that people like products that just work. It turns out that designs that just work are much harder to produce that designs that assemble long list of features.

  • Eric Ries

I would say, as an entrepreneur everything you do – every action you take in product development, marketing, every conversation you have, everything you do – is an experiment. If you can conceptualize your work not as building features, not as launching campaigns, but as running experiments, you can get radically more done with less effort.

  • Steve Blank

We now know that something between 85 and 90 percent of most software product features are unwanted and unneeded by customers. That is an enormous amount of waste of time and money that ends up on the floor.

  • Sergey Brin

We are focused on features, not products. We eliminated future products that would have made the complexity problem worse. We don’t want to have 20 different products that work in 20 different ways. I was getting lost at our site keeping track of everything. I would rather have a smaller set of products that have a shared set of features.

  • Jakob Nielsen

Even the best designers produce successful products only if their designs solve the right problems. A wonderful interface to the wrong features will fail.

  • Cindy Alvarez

What features your customers as for is never as interesting as why they want them.

  • Alan Cooper

Reducing a product’s definition to a list of features and functions ignores the real opportunity – orchestrating technological capability to serve human needs and goals.

  • Jefferson Han

If you watched companies such as Sony and Samsung grow, they focused first on features and then on industrial design, which made their products look and feel better.

  • Tony Fadell

No amount of data will tell you if a feature should be in the product, because it doesn’t exist. You need to have a very clear leader with a clear point of view…otherwise, you get a mishmash of features and stuff that doesn’t make a lot of sense.

  • Ram Shriram

You want to do a few things really well because you want to come out with a product that is fully baked, even though it may be lacking in a few features or whatever, rather than the one that’s all-achieving but not doing anything too well.

  • Gregory Benford

It turns out that if you optimize the performance of a car and of an airplane, they are very far away in terms of mechanical features. So you can make a flying car. But they are not very good planes, and they are not very good planes.

  • Scott Adams

Normal people…believe that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Engineers believe that if it ain’t broke, it doesn’t have enough features yet.

  • James Surowiecki

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do things more quickly and efficiently. But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle.

  • John Carmack

The cost of adding a feature isn’t just the time it takes to code it. The cost also includes the addition of an obstacle to future expansion. The trick is to pick the features that don’t fight each other.

  • Jeffrey Gitomer

I don’t want features, I want value. I don’t want benefits, I want value.

  • David Karp

Every feature has some maintenance cost, and having fewer features lets us focus on the ones we care about and make sure they work very well.

  • Stephen Baker

Prices are coming down. And they have the features and benefits people want.

  • Tim Locke

Hardwood floors are very popular features in new homes. Many individuals are also installing hardwood floors when they renovate their residences. Consumers realize that this feature adds value to their investment.

  • Emmett Shear

This is true for most new products. The majority of people you’re competing with are non-users. They are people who have never used your service before. And what they say is actually the most important. What they say is the thing that blocks you from expanding the size of your market with your features.

  • Carl Sagan

The fossil record implies trial and error, the inability to anticipate the future, features inconsistent with a Great Designer.

  • Leah Culver

Learn not to add too many features right away, and get the core idea built and tested.

Image: Imani Clovis

Asset-light business model is the key to success for start-ups

Asset-light business model is the key to success for start-ups

Asset-light business model is the key to success for start-ups

Asset-light business model is the ket to success for most start-ups. Around eighty percent of new businesses fail not because of a bad idea but because of choosing the wrong business model. They start with high fixed costs and no revenue. At the core of this bad implementation lies the ill-conceived notion that a heavily invested business would generate high revenues. Some have flourished, but most have floundered. People give too much concentration on acquiring operational resources for the company. But not enough gets done on generating at least break-even revenue. This has resulted in a majority of start-up flops.

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. There is still hope for entrepreneurs. Seasoned business people have extolled the virtue of starting small with zero assets and leveraging the enormous power of technology. Put it another way, it means adopting an asset-light business model at the very early stage of the company.

At the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholders Meeting held in April 2016, Warren Buffett commented that asset-light businesses are the ideal investment opportunities. They generated significant cash flow by investing in some asset-light businesses in the early years of the company. At the heart of today’s most successful start-ups lies the emergence of asset-light business model empowered by deep-pocket private investors who are disappointed by the returns from other investments. The business model helps companies exploit new revenue opportunities faster than more mature and established firms. On closer inspection, it is not hard to find some common traits and features of several new generation businesses.

Uber

The disruptive trend towards asset-light business model has bolstered the bullishness of Uber’s investors. The model has enabled its strategy of growth over the pursuit of profits because of the lower cost of expansion. Uber does not own or maintain any vehicles because it uses the gig economy for its survival.

Zalando

What started off as a simple online business in 2008 selling flip-flops from a Berlin flat has developed into large e-commerce selling goods to 15 countries. Zalando sales revenue is rising by around 15% a year. Guess their business. Selling other brands through the Internet. Surely, the asset-light approach is nimble and sustainable.

Wendy’s

One of the ways to adopt an asset-light business model is through outsourcing as Wendy’s has done. It has reduced capital and the amount of real estate they own and managed through franchising their American outlets. Many fast food giants have followed suit and have taken advantage of such scalability.

Capital equipment OEMs

Most OEMs have transferred the task of designing and manufacturing the systems and subsystems to suppliers as new parts sold by vendors are replacing certain obsolete ones thereby passing on the operational complexities and costs associated with producing them using the capital-intensive equipment.

OYO Rooms

An innovative business model whereby partnering with existing hotels and getting a percentage of commission from them has made OYO Rooms a huge success. The brand owns hotels without having to build them from scratch thus resulting in huge savings, less risk, and exponential growth path.

Snapdeal

From homegrown online start-up to an e-commerce giant Snapdeal has managed to garner a huge customer base just by leveraging technology. The Internet has made it possible to reach a wider range of market than ever before with lower asset requirements. In just over five years it has managed to achieve a valuation of USD 5 billion making it attractive to future investors.

Hotels

Accor group of chain hotels and InterContinental hotel franchises some outlets to other hotel operators. They manage but not own some others. Only a minority of the outfits is owned or leased by the companies. Here the bricks-and-mortar is the property of someone else. Similarly, Marriott owns only a tiny fraction of the hotels that bear its brands.

Airlines

Utilization and not the acquisition of aircraft is key to stellar returns in the aviation industry. Lan flights use their aircraft to service both passengers and cargo. Likewise, DHL and Cathay Pacific share aircraft for their cargo and passenger routes respectively enjoying the advantages of increased utilization of their capital intensive wide-bodied aircraft.

Types of asset-light business models

Boston Consulting Group points out the most common types of asset-light business models based on the sources of differentiation.  They are outsourcing, asset-sharing, licensing in, and licensing out. Inherently these models help companies to keep costs low, diversify risks, and to branch out into new markets. Companies outsource the supporting systems so that they can free up their resources and concentrate on their core business. Similarly, asset-sharing helps in lowering operational and labor costs. Licensing in and licensing out has helped companies to foster valuable strategic alliances in a cost-effective manner.

Lessons for start-ups

It is only natural for a wide-eyed entrepreneur to get overwhelmed and intimidated by the sheer enormity of all these successful businesses. But they all started off with zero capital. All they had was the founder’s drive. Their success lay in adopting an asset-light business model that had virtually no cost and was easy to exit in case the business failed. An asset-light business model start-up company to be successful and to have the edge over others in the market should have the following essential qualities:

  • Start with the potential for future growth by paying attention to the market demands
  • Do strive for a wider and deeper reach of the target market to achieve quick scalability
  • Follow the trends consistently and continuously for long-term business sustainability
  • Invest in cutting-edge technology such as software, systems, and subsystems
  • Take fewer risks i.e. less capital-intensive investment, equipment, and real assets
  • Explore cost-effective measures such as sharing resources with other entrepreneurs

The growth path of traditional old businesses was linear which implies that it took a considerable amount of time to expand the business sometimes even took the founding entrepreneur’s lifetime to achieve the desired scalability and financial success. An asset-light business start-up, on the other hand, can grow exponentially bypassing many of the life cycles of a traditional business by adopting an asset-light model enabled by modern technology. Today advanced e-commerce software has made it possible for companies to find success with a mere fraction of the cost and time.

Photo Credit: Suhyeon Choi

The Best Sales Promotion, Before, During and After

The Best Sales Promotion, Before, During and After

The Best Sales Promotion, Before, During and After

The objective of the best sales promotion is to increase sales for a particular product through stimulating additional demand for the product. The end goal is to generate revenue over and above the standard. And the intent is almost always a short-term gain, unlike some marketing strategies that are designed to create customer loyalty, brand awareness and long-term return on investment. Successful promotions are the ones that have struck a chord with the intended audience and have met the desired results of increased business. Companies replace the non-performing promotional activities with performing ones to maximize the benefit.

What is it that makes some campaigns successful and others not? Here we dissect the variables involved pre-promotion, during and after the promotion. Usually, a particular successful promotional campaign may not have had all the factors described here, but a majority of them have. A careful analysis of such ingredients can help companies replicate the successful promotions and roll them out in another market or on a wider scale in the same market. On the other hand, the strategies that worked in the past may not necessarily work out in the future. So, it is recommended to exercise caution.

The primary variables involved in all promotional activities are the product, the market, the channel, the competition, and the budget. We examine the dynamics of each of these before the promotion, during and after the promotion.

Pre-promotion

  • Product: A promotional activity narrowly targets a small subset of the larger target market. The campaign should take into consideration what benefit of the product would appeal to the audience. The promotion should highlight that feature that closely corresponds to that interest.
  • Market: Understand the dynamics of the target audience and the stage in the product lifecycle. For example, how often does this market use the product? Conduct a preliminary research on the demographics and behavioral patterns of the market. Learn the cultural nuances of the area.
  • Channel: Depending on the target market decide on the mode of delivery that would most appeal to the target market. Then consider a variety of channels that would help meet the promotional goals. For example, retail outlets, malls, media, community centers, event venues, etc.
  • Competition: Find out if a direct or an indirect competitor has done a similar sales promotion. If so, what was the outcome? If the promotional activity has produced disappointing results, then there is no point in replicating it in the same market. It would end up in a waste of resources.
  • Budget: Work out every element of the promotion that would incur a direct and variable cost. It would be ideal if some partners can bear some costs or if other stakeholders involved could share them in return for a benefit. Agree upon the cost-sharing model in advance with all concerned.

During the Promotion

  • Product: Start a conversation with the customer through different media outlets before the promotional deal and communicate with them about the product’s features and benefits. Asking for personal references can work for high ticket items. Social media campaigns are very effective ways to hold a prominent position in people’s minds.
  • Market: Rather than a mass approach, acknowledge and re-engage with old customers as well as encourage new customers to try the product by offering free samples and demonstrations. Direct marketing in certain markets and products is a highly efficient way to reach out to high net worth individuals.
  • Channel: Help the customers make purchase decisions by making the product available as and when they require it using various channels. Motivate them to buy it by bringing the product to their doorstep. Try personal selling if appropriate when the customer appreciates a direct interaction on a one to one basis.
  • Competition: Differentiate the product from the rest. Provide technical information to the prospects on why the product is different. Emphasize on those qualities and advantages that allow the customers to ask relevant questions rather than giving a sales pitch. If possible, distribute special coupons with expiration dates.
  • Budget: For budget-constrained clients who show a serious interest in the product offer friendly payment terms in liaison with the local financial institutions. Create and foster brand loyalty by giving them various options on how they can conveniently get hold of the product. Offering them special deals is also a good way to seal deals faster.

Post-promotion

  • Product: Conduct a post-promotion analysis on what worked and did not work within the targeted audience. Consider what other benefits of the product were appealing. Fine-tune and replicate the ones that worked and discard the ones that did not.
  • Market: Make a note of the receptiveness and rejection of the customers to the product features. Create a qualified database of the old customers as well as the new ones in the market. Tweak the product if necessary and possible to adapt to the cultural sensitivity.
  • Channel: During the next promotion consider using only those modes of delivery and the channels that were beneficial and that brought the greatest return on investment. Do a survey directly with the first-time purchasers and regular purchases on the preferred usage of a channel.
  • Competition: Do a competitive analysis on other companies who are selling similar or augmented products. Rather than competing headlong, work out strategic partnerships to leverage the sales. Some tactical alliances with local partners can even bring the production cost down for both parties.
  • Budget: Calculate the cost incurred to carry out the promotion. Compare that to the incremental sales revenue obtained purely by carrying out the campaign. Work out the benefits and risks of the cost-sharing model. Post-promotion phase is a good time to evaluate the mode of payment most preferred by the target market.

 

The following matrix can help while doing a post-promotion analysis. The information filled out can be useful in designing an improvised promotion the next time.

Pre-promotion Promotion Post-promotion
Product
Market
Channel
Competition
Budget

Photo Credit: Roman Kraft

Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Your Job is to Hurdle the Top 3 Sales Objections

Sales objections are the bane of existence for many salespeople. Here are a few tips to leap the hurdles and tackle the top 3 sales objections.

Sales Objection #1: Your price is too high

  • Which means?
  • Compared to what?
  • How much did you think it would cost?
  • It is high compared to what some companies charge. However, we sell over 800 units a month. Why do you think that is? Do you think that these 800 businesspeople would buy from us if they didn’t see the superior quality and the value they receive?
  • It costs only about 48 cents per hour of operation. That’s less than a can of Coke out of a vending machine. You can afford that, can’t you?
  • What neighborhood do you live in? That’s a nice neighborhood. You are obviously a person who appreciates the finer things in life. Why are you denying yourself top quality now? Does that make sense?
  • Why do you think our competitors are cheaper? Where do you think that they cut the corners? Did they use cheaper materials? Poorly trained craftsmen? Did they cut back on quality control? Why worry about where they cut corners? Why not buy the best and sleep well at night!

Sales Objection #2: I’m too busy; talk to our Purchasing Manager first.

  • (Prospect’s name), suppose you receive a letter marked “Personal and Confidential.” Would you allow your Purchasing Manager to open it? (Wait for a reply.) The proposal I have was intended for your eyes only. What I have to say is too important to be shared with anyone outside the executive suite. Can we talk now?
  • I appreciate how busy you are. However, the opportunity I have to share with you will have a significant impact upon the future of your company. All I ask for is a brief moment to explain the dollar consequences of this important proposal. Isn’t this worth a few minutes of your time?
  • Does he have the authority to approve a $_______ purchase? (If the prospect says yes:) Thank you, I’ll be sure to remind him/her and I’ll see him/her right now. (If the prospect says no:) Well, then, why should I talk with him/her?
  • Our proposal is really very significant. It requires detailed information from top management. Is ____ privy to all details and operating plans known to top management? If not, we should set aside five minutes to cover the key parts of this opportunity together. After that, if you want me, I will be happy to talk with ____
  • Are you too busy to save money?
  • If this opportunity save your company, $____, who do you want to be the hero, you or the Purchasing Manager?
  • We almost never deal with Purchasing Managers. This is an executive-level decision. I need to talk with you.
  • I am sure your Purchasing Manager is very competent. However, I can assure you, this information is beyond his/her realm of expertise. This information is for the person who is in charge of the total bottom-line profitability of the company.
  • I cannot talk with Purchasing Managers. It is company policy. I will either talk with you, or no one in your company will learn of this opportunity. Can we talk?
  • You want me to talk with your Purchasing Manager? I know what you are really saying is that you don’t think this opportunity is worthy of your attention. May I have two minutes to explain to you why it is?
  • You want me to talk with someone else? Why do you think I called you? It wasn’t by chance! The information I have is for you only! After you have heard it, if you want me to talk with ____, I will be happy to. But, I am confident it won’t be necessary.
  • How do you feel when you call someone and they ask you to speak with someone else? Well, that’s the way I fell now! What would you do if you were in my position?
  • Thank you for your suggestion. The news I have is very important. Why don’t you give him/her my name and number, and have him/her call me? I don’t normally talk with Purchasing Managers. I’d really prefer to talk with you. May I have a few minutes of your time?
  • I have already talked with your Purchasing Manager. He said it was very important that you and I talk directly.
  • By handing me over to your Purchasing Manager, what you are really telling me is that you don’t know how critical this matter really is. Would you like to learn why?

Sales Objection #3: I want to work with a more established company

  • You impress me as a very smart businessperson. I know you haven’t invited me here to chat about the weather. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, do you?
  • I understand how safe you feel about a relationship that goes back 15 years. And yet, I saw your eyes light up when you looked at our products. I can see that you’re giving serious consideration to diversity. Just out of curiosity, could we compare the pros and cons of the two choices? Let’s take a piece of paper and list the reasons for and buying from us. The first reason against us is that we haven’t worked with you for the past 15 years. What would be the reasons for giving us a chance to prove ourselves?
  • Is there anything about me that prevents you from doing business with our company?
  • I can say good things about my competitor and if I were you, I would go with them – unless, of course, you want a better product at a better price.
  • I do respect your loyalty to your present vendor. Loyalty is a virtue. While we’re on the subject, how about your loyalty to your company’s long-term profits? Isn’t that kind of loyalty just as important as loyalty to an outside vendor? If I could show you a way of improving your company’s profits, would you take a serious look at our products?

(Adapted from the book “Sales Scripts That Close Every Deal” by Gerhard Gschwandtner, Founder and Publisher of Selling Power)

Photo: Alberto Guimaraes