Have you ever been on a landscaping sales call and the potential customer you’re meeting with details a long list of costly features that they would love to include in their backyard makeover? And have you salivated (if only in your mind) at the scope of all the work only to have it go horribly south when they tell you they’ve only budgeted about half of what you’ve tallied the cost to be.
So what to do next? Should you start to educate your client on the real costs of their wish list? Should you make suggestions for what to take off the list? Or do you simply need to walk away? With a large budget/cost difference, you may just be looking at a deal breaker. But finding out that someone is not your ideal client is okay.
In an ideal world, the marketing you’ve done will pre-qualify prospects by delivering the right message to a targeted audience. Prior to calling you, your prospects qualify themselves based on their impressions of value, aesthetics, personality, price range, etc., and then decide that they are either a potential fit or not. At that point, all the salesperson has to do (in an ideal world, of course) is meet them, find out what they want and close the deal.
While Authentic Marketing can filter out the larger, significant misalignments, relatively minor misalignments are par for the course in sales encounters. These are often remedied by simply clarifying issues of process, timing and value.
However, should some unqualified leads still slip through, the situation doesn’t have to be without benefits. You still have the opportunity to do some marketing by creating positive word-of-mouth. Being up front when it’s not a good fit will be appreciated and leave an impression of a company that operates with care and integrity. Perhaps you line up someone you can refer them to. If this prospect later runs into a friend or colleague that seems a better fit with your company, that sales-turned-marketing meeting may just lead to a job after all.
The sales mantra is “Always be closing.” But when you just can’t close…“Always be marketing.”
February 20, 2013