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DURING THE SALES process there will be points in the conversation where we can turn the talk in the direction we would like it to go. We will be able to pivot off a remark from the customer and turn our exchange into something positive for us and the customer.
Many sellers have no idea how they want the conversation to go; they just float along. The strange thing is that when the seller doesn’t control the conversation, many customers become frustrated with the process and treat sellers poorly because of this frustration. They don’t really know why, but it is the feeling of “Why did you call me?” They feel the salesperson is wasting their time—and rightfully so.
So, as simple as it seems, we need to know exactly what we want our customers to do and how to get them there. This is what Master Sellers do.
Often when customers bring up negative things, we can pivot off of these comments to something positive:
I Don’t Like Prices
“I agree with you. I wouldn’t touch 2×4 or 2×6 right now, but 2×8 is within 5% of a five-year low, so we are at investment levels on 2×8. I have three trucks I can pick up for us at $573/MBF, which is a fantastic deal. How many would you like to take?”
The Market Is Coming Off
“Yes, it is, which creates a lot of opportunity for us. We are always looking for straight 16’s out of ABC Sawmill and can never get them, especially at a price we like, but now they are listening, and we can pick 16’s up for a great price. We have been putting together a lot of great deals. Let’s give them an offer at 50 below print and see what happens. How many can you use if the price is right?”
“Yes, the market is coming off. The only way to buy at the bottom is buy on the way down. We’ve been coming off for 45 days. This thing is getting ready to turn, but the mills are still listening. Let’s give them an aggressive number today. If we wait for it to bounce, which is what everyone is doing, it will be up $50/MBF in two seconds and we will miss it. Let’s make them an offer at $459/MBF and see what happens.”
It’s Winter and My Business Is Slow
We are going to hear a version of this every year from Thanksgiving to April 1. “Yes, it is a bit slower right now but spring is coming. Now is the time to hit the mills with a program for spring. They are flexible and listening. Let’s propose something for delayed shipment on the items we know we are going to need in 60 days.”
I Just Bought
Many sellers shut down or say, “Well what else are you looking for?” We can ask this question, but before we do, get curious. “OK, what did you pick up? When is it going to ship? Whose stock was it? What did you pay? How many did you pick up?” If we ask these questions in a casual curious way most customers will share the information. Some won’t, but we are not intimidated into not asking these questions again, because most customers will.
When we find out the information about what they purchased, we say, “If I could get us a couple more for extended shipment, would you want to put them on?” One out of 10 customers will say yes. One out of 10 may seem like a low number, but if we are working hard enough that is a lot of extra orders at the end of the month.
I’ve Got Enough
Instead of saying, “Well what do you need?” we say, “I don’t want to sell you something you don’t need, but how long can you wait before you have to buy? Mills are listening, and prices are advantageous right now. Let’s hit them firm with some great numbers for extended shipment and see what they will do.”
Objections and negative statements shut down many sellers but are pivot points for the Master Seller. They turn a supposed negative statement into opportunity for their customers and themselves. Start using pivots today.
James Olsen is principal of Reality Sales Training, Portland, Or.
Call him at (503) 544-3572 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.