3 Bites of the Cherry

Dear Sales Doctor,

I’m finding so many prospects I call on are saying ‘happy with current supplier’ and I just don’t know where to go with it. Any ideas?

This is a very common objection that many sales professionals face and it may well be very true that the prospect is happy; however there is what I call the ‘3 bites of the cheery approach’ that normally creates an opportunity.

The first step is to try and identify pain. Many sales people ask are you happy with your supplier or is there anything you feel they could improve upon? These terrible closed questions do NOT get the prospect thinking and allows them to reply no without giving it any real thought. I always recommend the following questions:

In your valued opinion what areas do you feel your current supplier could improve?

If you had to rate the level of service your current supplier provides on a scale of 1 – 10, 10 being exceptional and 1 being awful, where would you rate them? When they say 8, reply okay, what would make them a 10?

If there was 1 thing that would make you even consider looking elsewhere, what would it be?

These leading open questions provoke the prospect to really think about their supplier and come up with areas for improvement, which will enable you to explain how your product or service can help them.

On the rare occasion the prospect is ecstatic with their supplier and they can’t think of any areas of improvement then you move to step 2 of the approach called review. You need to ask how long they’ve been working with their current supplier? No matter what length of time they respond with, you reply “that’s quite a long time and I’m sure you’re aware there have been many changes in the market place. When did you last review to ensure you are receiving the best quality of product/ service, the best level of service and paying the RIGHT price?” Now it’s possible the prospect has reviewed and if so you say “you’re clearly an astute individual, who did you review against and what criteria did you use to benchmark against?” If they haven’t reviewed, then you insist on them benchmarking their current supplier against your offering to either give them leave of mind that what they have is the best for them or that you can add value.

Finally it leads me to step 3, the backup plan. You say to the prospect “if your current supplier was to let you down or couldn’t work within a short lead time or was unable to provide a specific product or service, who would you then look at?” Most companies are unlikely to have a back up supplier, so if they reply that they have never needed once, I would say “I appreciate that, however surely it’s better to be prepared if the need arises. I suggest I come and demonstrate our products/ services to ensure we are right for your business and then if the need arises, we’ll be able to react immediately.

By using this ‘3 bites of the cherry approach’ it will help you work with most companies that are happy with their current supplier.

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