What Would You Recommend?

On a conference call last month, one of the participants asked the group’s advice on a sticky situation he found himself in.

Advice was requested and we had a lively discussion debating what he should do and possible outcomes. Last week I received a phone call from that rep and he told me what he did and how the client reacted. I thought you might like to play Sales Coach in this week’s blog.

How would you assess the following:

The situation:

  • A print sales rep is asked to submit a proposal, but not just a price. This proposal had to do with creating a mock-up for a new solution;
  • The client made the request of other print companies as well;
  • The contact making the request said she’d be, “Showing it to her boss” and asked that the mock up be dropped off and left;
  • The rep has no other history with this prospect;
  • The rep said he’d be much more comfortable meeting with the Contact and her Boss but was denied. She wanted it left at the front desk.

The question is, do you leave the mock up and run the risk of the Contact quoting out your idea or do you present it in person but not give it to her to show the boss? Each option has consequences.

Well? What would you recommend?

I am going to post the outcome in next week’s blog. If you absolutely cannot wait that long, e-mail me and I will let you know what happened.

Thanks for playing.

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at NAPL. His training programs can drive the sales of print reps and selling owners. Check out his Sales Resources page and contact him at (781) 934-7036 or bfarquharson@napl.org.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
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  • Dick

    No meeting with both the contact and the boss, no mock-up. Otherwise you are wasting your time.

  • Bill Farquharson

    It’s a tough call. Stick around in sales long enough and you are bound to get burned as someone bids out your idea. That’d make anyone gun-shy. But how would someone react to being told they are not trustworthy? Tune in next week to hear the rest of the story.

  • Tom Plain

    Seems like a sketchy request from the buyer, unless they are a multimillion dollar whale that is used to such demands. Otherwise it seems a big "ask" from someone who has no interest in a relationship. Perhaps she already has a favorite they want to award the work to? It sounds like a "win-lose" situation to me. The client wins free consulting and the rep loses the time, effort and idea. In my view, only if the potential was very great, might be worth a shot.

  • Harry Charters

    This seems like a "is your glass half-empty or half-full proposition" and what stage the rep is in developing a relationship with the account and its various contacts. Unfortunately, he/she’s not dealing with the decision maker level, which leaves them in an awkward spot. But at this point if he/she wants to break into the account, they need to follow-through and present part of the solution without offering the whole project. Enough to get them to want to set-up an appointment and explore the opportunity further.

  • seasoned

    Leave the mock up and wait for a response. There is no point in not respecting the wishes of the Contact. Besides, it’s not like the Contact is getting the formula for Pepsi!

  • Thomas Conley

    This has happened to me.

    I have done all the leg work on a project only to have the order given to another vendor. Not on price, but because they had more confidence in the other company on that particular project.

    My solution was to be gracious and live to fight another day. As I build my relationship with the customer then I became the "A" vendor and lost very little to my competitors.

    Remember if you are a young sales person time is on your side.

  • Robert Nelson

    I recommend questions. Why, how, when, etc. If she will engage you with answers, it is highly likely you will find the angle to compel them to build a better relationship with you and your company. Consider this, you go into an electronics store knowing you want a certain brand and size HDTV. A good consultant will ask how you came to want this brand and size. During the Q&A he/she will likely learn much information. Commonly, a different brand, size and/or other considerations will be warranted. For example, the size you want is too big for the limited space you are putting it in. Now back to this situation, how do I provide a mock-up without these types of information provided? Perhaps the area for the operation is too small for what I intend to design. Maybe HVAC is inadequate for the plan. What if they have a better location within their space? In other words, as a thought leader in my business, I will likely uncover a great number of considerations that significantly impact their plans and goals. This will gain me preference and frequently lead to a much more in-depth engagement, likely including "the boss." If this approach leads to additional stonewalling, I then disengage as it is obvious it will be a disproportionate use of my time relative to the chance of establishing business with this prospect. If that is the case, I prefer to have the guts to walk away rather than use the "hope" approach.