Buyers can pull some pretty dirty tricks when they’re trying to push salespeople into cutting their price. They don’t want to overpay, want to look good to their boss and many actually get paid based on how much they save. While there are literally dozens of tactics these folks use to manipulate sales reps into cutting their price, one of the most easily recognizable is the “Stiff Arm” tactic.
How Buyers Use the “Stiff Arm” Tactic to Get Salespeople to Cut Their Price
This is accomplished by simply saying, “I can’t pay any more.” or, “I can only pay X amount.” This tactic is designed just to get you to knuckle under, as if the amount had been decreed from heaven. The way you foil this trick is to say, “Why not?” or, “How did you come up with that figure?” When you respond with that, inevitably they’re going to say, “Because (somebody) said so.” – my boss, Mr. Jones, my Mommy, or whoever. When they say, “Because so and so said so,” they’re clearly identifying the person with whom you can most effectively do your selling. Any highly successful salesperson knows that you sell to decision makers and people who influence decision makers in the real world. However, it is sometimes difficult to uncover who those people really are, especially when the front-line buyer is focused only on strong arming the rep into cutting their price. When your prospect says, “Because (so and so) said so,” they are telling you who the real decision maker is. Your job, of course, is figuring out how to get to that decision maker because, until you do, you can’t really sell the quality, service or whatever it is that you feel is your competitive advantage. Remember, however, that you really do need to know what your competitive advantage is in order to sell it. A business-to-business buyer’s job is often just to talk salespeople into cutting their price once they’ve made sure they will get the right stuff – on time. If you can deliver the right stuff – on time – and especially if your competition can’t, you have to get to the decision maker in order to explain that to them. That’s all part of salesmanship and, remember, that’s known as back-door selling. So don’t just lay down and die when your prospect says, “We can’t pay any more.” Ask, “Why not?” and find out who it is you should have been selling to in the first place. This material comes from the book How To Sell At Margins Higher Than Your Competitors by Bill Brooks and Dr. Larry Steinmetz.