Sep 16, 2021 • Podcast

How do I sell an upgrade when the preferred option is unavailable?

Paul offers tips on the timely issue of supply shortages and meeting the customer’s current and future needs.

Show Notes 

Is this upgraded solution better for the customer in the long run? “Will it give them more opportunity?”

Stretch the customer’s time horizon backwards to remind them of how they’ve grown and will continue to grow.

Highlight the cost of doing nothing.

“Sell the opportunity value of the upgraded equipment.” What will this solution allow the customer to do tomorrow that they cannot do today?

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How do I sell an upgrade when the preferred option is unavailable?

(Transcribed from podcast)

Well, today we’ve got a great show. This is based on a conversation that I recently had with a group of salespeople. And here’s why it is so timely. I know right now, many of you are facing supply shortages. I know many of you sellers out there are having selling some product because the product the customer really wants is not in stock. There’s supply shortages; there’s supply chain disruption. Right now, sellers are struggling to sell because they just don’t have what they need to sell.

So here is the situation. I’m working with a sales team a couple of weeks ago, and one of the seller says, “Hey, Paul. I’ve got this piece of equipment that I know is going to be a game changer for my customer. However, it’s an upgraded piece of equipment because what they really want is not available. So, if I’m going to get the sale, I’ve got to sell them a higher end piece of equipment. The only problem is, the customer didn’t budget for that. It’s outside of their budget.” So, he’s, wondering, “How am I going to sell this upgraded equipment?” That’s what we’re going to focus on today’s show.

Before we do that, though, a quick shout-out to Andrea over The Creative Impostor Studios. You know, podcasting is such a great way to connect with your audience. It continues to grow. If you’re a company and you’re looking to connect with your customers, give podcasting a try. If you’re a company trying to communicate more effectively with your employees—. Many of my clients that I work with, Fortune 500 companies, they are creating internal podcasts where they can communicate with each other. So if you’re thinking of doing that, reach out to Andrea and her team. They can guide you through the entire process—make it easy for you and pain-free so you can focus on creating content versus having to go out there and handle all the behind-the-scenes stuff. So, reach out to Andrea and her team.

Also, make sure you, pre-order your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Get it now; get in line now because this book is going to fly off the shelf. Now, the reason I mention Selling Through Tough Times is because tough timers—tough timers, which are those rare breed of sellers that thrive in challenging environments, they are opportunistic, which means they look at every situation through an opportunistic prism as a way to either find something to gain or improve or get better. And some people think being opportunistic is a bad thing, and I’m here to tell you, it is a good thing. And in the new book, we talk about how to opportunistically view situations and how you can capitalize on them. So make sure you pre-order your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.

So, let’s get back to this question: How do I sell upgraded equipment when we don’t have what our customer has requested? That’s what we’re going to tackle on today’s show.

So, first things first. In this scenario, this salesperson is selling, we’ll just say capital equipment—capital equipment—and what the customer has requested, they don’t have in stock. So he wants to know “How do I sell the upgraded equipment that they didn’t really request, or they’re not in the market for?” And so, when I was talking to this seller, I asked him, “Look, the new equipment that you are trying to sell, that you have that is available, is it better for them in the long run? Is this equipment going to give them more opportunity? Is this equipment the best possible option for what they’re facing right now?” And the answer in this case was all yes.

So, although the customer has requested certain equipment, you’ve got to sell them what is available, because the worst thing is to not provide them anything. And then they’re stuck. So, we’ve got to push forward. We’ve got to progress forward. And here’s how we’re going to do that. If I’m selling to this business owner this capital equipment, the first thing I’m going to do is I am going to stretch that customer’s time horizon…backwards.

Here’s what I mean. I’m going to look at that business owner and say, “Okay, Mr. Business Owner, let’s look at your business 10 years ago—back in 2010. Over the past decade, your business has expanded. It has grown. You continue to grow. You’ve doubled the capacity of your facility.” And so, the reason I’m doing that is I’m letting the customer know, “Look, although right now you may feel as though this capital equipment is overkill for what you really need, just imagine how much more your business is going to expand over the next 10 years. And as your business continues to expand, you’re going to have this upgraded equipment that is going to help you achieve that growth more profitably. So, although initially, Mr. Customer, your need’s focused more on this one piece of equipment, having this upgraded equipment is going to help your business grow even more profitable as you continue to grow.”

So that’s what we’re doing is we’re letting them know, “Hey, you might have to grow into this new machine or this new piece of equipment, but by doing it, by making the investment now, you’re going to be able to grow more profitably.” So we’re drawing a parallel almost to their past. And what we’re telling them is, “Look, your business grew this much over the past 10 years, it’s safe to say your business is going to continue to grow. With this upgraded equipment, you’re going to be able to grow more profitably.”

The next thing I would do, I would highlight the greater cost—and that is the cost of doing nothing. If you are selling an upgraded piece of equipment and the customer says, “You know what? I might just wait until stock is available. I might just wait until things improve or get better,” we need to highlight the cost of waiting. Because sometimes “…the most expensive option is not the option you’re going to purchase. The most expensive option is doing nothing and getting nothing and changing nothing about your business.” So, highlight the cost of waiting—what waiting could cost the customer. They may miss an opportunity. They may lose customers. They might lose a huge profit opportunity. So, it’s important that we highlight the cost of doing nothing as well.

And then, finally, the last tip here for you, we’ve got to sell the opportunity value. Sell the opportunity value of the upgraded equipment. And this goes for anyone, whether you’re selling equipment, whether you’re selling trucks, whether you’re selling software packages. Whatever you’re selling, sell the opportunity value. And that means highlighting to the customer what they will now be able to do as a result of investing in this upgraded equipment. And you can throw it out there as a rhetorical question to the customer. You could say, “You know, Mr. Business Owner, you might be wondering, what does investing in this upgraded equipment allow you to do tomorrow that you cannot do today? Well, here’s what that is. The new equipment that we’re going to provide you, it allows you to go after new markets, which means you can open up brand new revenue streams within your organization. That’s going to help you and continue your growth effort.” So, we can talk about the opportunity value there.

If you’re selling a software package, we might say, “You know, I know that initially, this is the product that you were requesting—this is the software package that you were interested in. But looking at this newer option, this upgraded option, this new option gives you the ability to roll out prototypes quicker than you currently are. And because it’s quicker, you’re going to be able to have a quicker time to market, which means you’re going to be able to make more money, capture more opportunities.” We sell the opportunity value. So ask yourself, what does this upgraded option give your customer the ability to do tomorrow that they cannot do today? That’s how we sell the opportunity value.

So again, a quick recap. Again, when you’re selling an upgraded option and the customer requested something else, but you just don’t have it in stock, here’s how you approach it. Number one: you’ve got to stretch their time horizon backwards. Highlight how much success they’ve experienced over the past 10, 20, 30 years and say, “Look, when you made those decisions back then, your company continued to grow. Naturally, you’re going to continue to grow over the next decade. Wouldn’t it make sense to grow into this equipment to help you grow more profitably?” So, we stretch that time horizon backwards. And we do that, again, to make a comparison of where they were 10 years ago to where they are now. And that’s going to help as you present where they’re going to be 10 years from now.

Next thing you want to do, highlight the greater cost. In this case, the greater cost is not investing in an upgrade. The greater cost is really doing nothing and getting nothing. So, highlight that cost.

And then, finally, sell the opportunity value. Answer this question, “What is your equipment upgrade or what is your upgrade going to give the customer the opportunity to do tomorrow that they cannot do today?”

Make it a big day.

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