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Knowledge Thieves!

I run a small firm specialising in engineering equipment for factories. What we offer is a bespoke service and using our expertise we supply the most suitable equipment for the application either from our own supply or sourced from named manufacturers we deal with which we deem to be the most suitable. Having been going 30 years we are pretty experienced!

However more and more nowadays we encounter inexperienced engineers/buyers who will sound us out on our technical knowledge or ask us to quote only to buy elsewhere. (We dont charge for consulting as if we make the sale we make our profit at that point). Some will even send out our specification to our competitiors and admit to doing so.

Clearly not everyone buys in this way but my impression from others in industry is that this is becoming a very common method for certain companies to secure the best deal.

I wondered what experience others have of this tactic and any methods people use to overcome it. - by JosephH
I think you need to prequalify a little better by asking questions uncovering how serious they are looking to do business with you. Sounds like they are not convinced on the value of your service thus the price shopping. something is getting lost there. a trust issue on delivering what you say?

Before my presentation I would root out how serious they are looking to do business with my company and verify same during my presentation with some trial closes. I would try to get a commitment to do business with me or find out why they wouldn't before giving my quote. I think if your presentation on what your service is strong and they believe you can deliver that you say they wont want to go any where else.

I dont know how complex your presentation is, if its a one step close or two step process. I would hold on to giving my price without a commitment they were seriously considering my service. - by libbycop
I think you need to prequalify a little better by asking questions uncovering how serious they are looking to do business with you. Sounds like they are not convinced on the value of your service thus the price shopping. something is getting lost there. a trust issue on delivering what you say?

Before my presentation I would root out how serious they are looking to do business with my company and verify same during my presentation with some trial closes. I would try to get a commitment to do business with me or find out why they wouldn't before giving my quote. I think if your presentation on what your service is strong and they believe you can deliver that you say they wont want to go any where else.

I dont know how complex your presentation is, if its a one step close or two step process. I would hold on to giving my price without a commitment they were seriously considering my service.
I hear what you are saying and the points made are really helpful but to be honest we have done all of the above already. By chance this has happened today after a client indicating very strongly that he wanted to use us. The day after submitting our technical spec & quotation we hear from our suppliers that he has attempted to get prices via a third party for the same equipment specified by us.

I honestly dont think that this is about presentation but everything about accountants leading buyers with little or no technical expertise. I think its indicative of short term win lose style of buying which is gaining popularity in the downturn. - by JosephH
JosephH, does the the term (expression) "Upfront Contract" mean anything to you?

Hint: The basic skeletal form for such a verbal understanding looks somewhat like this: If I proceed to ________ , are you willing to __________ ?

That falls, btw, in the category of Honest, Intrinsic, Questions which are the building blocks of sales.

Unless that element appears "on the table" in some form, in situations like those you describe, you will NOT transcend your dilemma.

That's the hard reality, but such understanding also is the key to gaining much ground with your efforts.

Good luck. - by Gary A Boye
Hey joseph - what about the service you provide?.whatever guarantee or warranty on your work?..what im saying is differentiate..all part of value along with committments from the prospect..your situation is not unique my friend. - by libbycop
Hey joseph - what about the service you provide?.whatever guarantee or warranty on your work?..what im saying is differentiate..all part of value along with committments from the prospect..your situation is not unique my friend.
JosephH was clear that he offers a bespoke service. Certainly warranties and applicable service would be part of the scope of what he is to offer a proposal on.

He also inferred that he has been dealing with some inexperienced buyers who are asking his help in creating the specifications.

Marketing of service is in the service, not in the promise.

There can be an advantage to writing specs, such as when the specs are proprietary to the bidder, OR, if manufacturer price advantage can be obtained from the manufacturer in return for spec'ing their materials.

Every industry is different, and so, the context of applicable selling elements will vary also.

For instance, "I would hold on to giving my price without a commitment they were seriously considering my service." might work for some sellers of home improvement services, but would not fit the process that JosephH is involved in.

"One step" or "two step" close structuring is also not applicable to this situation.

A few months ago, we had an auto salesperson here suggesting to a very successful television advertising salesperson that she should find a way to go for a one call close. Nothing could be more counterproductive in that industry. - by Gary A Boye
Was just a suggestion to emphasize the value of his service that's all..I realize every industry is different but in most instances if your quick with giving your price before a commitment especially if you know others have shopped your price in the past more than likely it will continue to happen whether a one call or 10 call close. - by libbycop
Was just a suggestion to emphasize the value of his service that's all..I realize every industry is different but in most instances if your quick with giving your price before a commitment especially if you know others have shopped your price in the past more than likely it will continue to happen whether a one call or 10 call close.
That is often true, and in many cases your thoughts are sound. At SalesPractice, we have identified closing as a progression of consent rather than an event. In a complex sale, the progression can be more drawn out, but those way points of consent are vital. The verbal upfront contract which I mentioned earlier would be an example of such consent. However, holding a price quote, by itself, ransom would be highly transparent, and could easily lose the opportunity to do business. That price quote would come at a point in time when scope of work according to specifications, and several other areas of consent have taken place. To halt the quoting of price that far along in the process would not make sense. - by Gary A Boye
I understand what you mean and do agree with you..I dont think holding your price works in every instance either.However if and when you uncover that your prospect will be shopping your proposal I wouldn't be so quick to give my price without a commitment to do business with mya company.that's all im saying..

I've done alot of B2B consulting sales in the past where rapport and trust we're key and would never try a one call close - by libbycop
Joseph, my sales bkgrd is classic (3M, Xerox, Apple Computer) then a number of entrepreneurial ventures (including a couple based on lead-edge computer-vision technology).

I found myself understanding your situation. Here are a few questions:
1. when you say, that you're "pre-qualifying" your suspects, what topics are you including?
2. when you provide a quotation, are you convinced that you're in front of someone with the mandate to act?
3. if your services are genuinely "required", how can price be a consideration?

Regards,
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
Joseph, without definitive experience with "a bespoke service", I have a few more comments:
1. you say that you don't charge for consulting services; but,
2. your IP is being threatened by less knowledgeable (ethical?) competitors; and,
3. the utlitmate sale is a combination of factory equipment and related services;

Presumably, with 30 years experience, you have sufficient references: you should charge a consulting fee which can be deducted from the ultimate sale.

Good luck & Good Selling,
Pat - by OUTSource Sales
Joseph,

People buy from the person they trust and respect the most, for their own personal security. Trust and respect are intuitive decisions that are not based in logic.

We have trained engineering consultants and capital equipment sales engineers. The first thing they do is develop deep personal relationships with their prospects. These relationships are characterized by mutual trust and respect. In situations that require multiple bids, the specifications of the RFQ is written in favor of their products and services.

In cases where they are unable to develop that kind of relationship quickly, they disqualify the prospect. - by JacquesWerth
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