I recently met Sam, a young man who works as a salesperson in the rural Mid-West. His company is the “new kid” in town, and he is having trouble gaining traction with locals. Sam told me that in the past few months he has met with many prospects, and almost all of the meetings end the same way. The prospect tells him, “It was great to meet you, but we have been using the same supplier for the last twenty years and we’re happy with them, so we just wouldn’t be interested in what you have to offer.” Sam has not been able to come up with a way to reply to that statement that would keep the prospect from walking away.
What should Sam do?
Sam, and anyone in his shoes, should sell the prospect on the benefits of having more than one supplier. He could start by saying, “We are not here to disrupt your existing relationship. Instead, we are here to look for ways to add value to your relationships, to your business and to your customers. I’m wondering how often have you had a situation in which a supplier could not meet a unique challenge a customer brought to you? What if you had a customer put in an order for ten times their normal inventory? Would your current supplier be able to handle that?”
Sam could then continue by saying, “When a supplier doesn’t have something in stock, or is pressed for time, or is not an expert in a particular area: isn’t it fair to say that you could put your relationships with your customers at risk? We can be your alternative solution so you look good in the eyes of your customer. So, let’s talk about what is important to you and your customers now and in the future.”