Unlikely Clients – A Selling Choice

We recently attended The Snow and Ice Management Association’s annual Snow and Ice Symposium in Cleveland, Ohio. 2018 was a good show as always, but this year, I left SIMA with the last thing I expected… a great lesson about selling to unlikely clients.

Here at Go iLawn, we make no secret that doing takeoffs manually and using a “Free” software solution are our main competitors. People love to tell us we’re too expensive because we actually charge money to use our software. (see The Cost of FREE )

I get it. Everybody likes getting something for free, and this is a choice we see people make all the time. The draw of “Free” is strong.

The “Price Objection”

A price objection isn’t really about price. Although I’ve never been a professional salesman, I know this is true from 20+ years of marketing B2B products. And competing against “Free” isn’t just a price objection anymore; it becomes something else. “Free” carries an appeal that’s based in emotion, and can become very strong.

An Example

This year at SIMA, we talked to some folks who really illustrated this. We’ve talked to them before, and there’s always some reason they don’t jump into Go iLawn. But they were at the booth, and they run a massive snow operation, so we talked about it.

This time, we got past the first couple of no’s with no sweat. I started to feel encouraged that our new software might actually win them over. But then I heard “I know what you’re going to tell me, and yours is clearly better… but…”, and then they totally changed the conversation.

Suddenly they didn’t just want a better way to do what they were already doing… which we provided… they wanted a way to do something very different… something we don’t do (nor does anybody else).

It didn’t matter that we offered them a way to improve their business and increase their efficiency. We showed them a solution that would make their business run better… they even told us so, but then they changed the game to justify the answer they were going to give us all along. No.

The lesson I learned here is one I’m sure professional salespeople learn early. Chasing a deal that’s never likely to happen, wastes time you could spend talking to customers who already pay you, or building new opportunities clients who already want what you sell.

But We’re B2B

Make no mistake… We sell Business-to-Business software, and B2B sales work differently than selling to consumers. In our business, the sales cycle can be years long.

So maybe the time we spent with this client wasn’t completely wasted… maybe we planted a seed of an idea that will turn into a sale in a year or two.

But, we’d probably have made better use of our limited time on the SIMA show floor showing actual customers the new tools and capabilities of our new software.

What’s About Your Customers?

Do you have this in your business? Clients you chase year after year but never win their business?

That’s OK. Sometimes you have to go elephant hunting to try and land a “game-changer” client. Other times you simply need to keep your name in front of attractive clients so they think of you first if they ever decide to change providers.

But in both cases, we suggest looking at it as a low-intensity investment in future sales. Engage with them. Keep your name in front of them. But don’t bend over backwards to win a deal or fundamentally change what YOU DO just to try and win a resistant client. It’s never worth it.

Stick to your model. Stick to your system. And if they decide to do business with you, you’ve won a real client. If you have to change what you do to win them over, they probably aren’t a good fit for you anyway.

What are your thoughts?

The Go iLawn / Go iPave team

1 reply
  1. Michael Rorie
    Michael Rorie says:

    Joe,
    I couldn’t agree more with you that a resistant potential client isn’t someone your organization should be chasing. The amount of resource it takes as well as the specific details required for this one client isn’t worth veering off your organization course.
    One time deals just don’t add up !

    Reply

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