You would never start a sales call by telling a customer he’s an idiot. Yet a lot of salespeople do. What’s even more amazing is that they don’t even realize that they are doing this. Of course, they don’t come right out and say, “Hey, Mr. Customer, you know what? If you aren’t buying from me you’re an idiot.” It doesn’t matter if they aren’t saying these exact words. They are calling their customers idiots. Are you curious what they’re saying?
I was talking to a company president this week. He said that there’s one opening in a sales call that immediately gets him angry. If a salesman starts the sales call this way, he gets right back in their face. Why? He says the salesperson is calling him an idiot. Even more important, this customer says, “I think the salesman is an idiot if he says this.” Here is what the salesperson says.
“I know I can save you at least X dollars today.” After that beginning, my customer first thinks, “How can he be so sure he knows what I’m paying?” In fact, this president’s company is one of the largest distributors in the United States of a variety of products. As a result, his company gets volume discounts that no other company can get.
The president also told me, “If the salesman is telling me he can save me money, he’s implying that I’m a bad negotiator and didn’t get the best deal I could for my company.” He’s right. When you think about it, by claiming you can save someone money without knowing what he’s paying, you really are telling that person that he is a bad negotiator. With this president, you would be very, very wrong. I know this man. He’s a brilliant businessman and one of the best negotiators I’ve seen.
He saves money elsewhere, too. Part of his operation is repackaging. He competes with other companies who repackage products. One of the president’s suppliers had a quality audit team reviewing his operation. The auditor said, “This is the most efficient packaging operation I have ever seen in my twenty years of auditing companies all over the country.” An efficient operation costs less to run. His is the best in the country. Would a salesperson know that? Probably not.
It’s a bad idea to start the sales call by claiming you can save your customer money without knowing all you can about his business. Beware if you do start the call this way. You’re not only calling your customer an idiot. You’re showing the customer that you’re one, too.
Maura Schreier-Fleming is a sales strategist and founder of Best@Selling, a sales training and consulting company. She wrote Monday Morning Sales Tips and works with sales professionals who want to sell more and close more business.