Here’s an unpleasant retail experience from a surprisingly mild Autumnal day in central London. Heading back to my desk during the afternoon, I walked by a deli-patisserie that I often pass. Combining the knowledge that I’ve only ever been an occasional customer with my desire to stop giving as much cash as possible to ‘The Man’ (particularly Starbucks, Nero’s, Costa, Eat, Pret) I went in to buy myself a couple of naughty treats.
Now I must admit I can be partial to those chocolate, caramel, biscuit slabs so was delighted to see one left at such late hour. The poor thing resembled the last chicken on the supermarket shelf though. It had clearly endured a couple of scraps during the day and consequently was battered and bruised around the edges, culminating with a chunk missing. I spotted the opportunity for some good-natured bargaining.
Of the two young Polish ladies serving, only one currently brandished the requisite English skills to understand my smiling request, “as it’s broken, what will you knock off the price to sell it to me?”
The shrug I received back was simply, “I’m sorry…” What was she apologising for? I investigated by continuing, “it’s not all there is it … so what is it worth now?”
It then became evident that her ‘sorry’ meant No Deals.
We were still smiling at each other, and there was nothing but positive feelings in the exchange. Yet what an opportunity missed up. They’d never sell that last one. What would happen to it at the end of the day, I wondered. My disappointment grew. Yes, I’d failed to encourage the server to see the win-win outcome, but surely it was their loss. A loss then compounded by my walking out the shop empty-handed. After all, it’s difficult to buy anything when the one thing you’d settled on seems no longer attractive.
Still smarting, as I trundled back, I couldn’t help lamenting this as a metaphor for failed selling in my B2B lands. I’m sure many such solution-sellers could apply the remedies to this situation to their ambitions. Here’s just the first one I thought of.
When I was at Uni, a flatmate of mine was addicted to curry. He still is. It wasn’t the prettiest of sights to greet me first thing in the morning. I regularly shuffled towards the cereal only to notice him in bedraggled boxer shorts and t-shirt that seemed both too small and suffered at the hands of moths, cooking up his breakfast curry. When I asked him how come he made so much of the stuff and seemed to be re-heating it up all week, he promised to show me. The next Saturday afternoon, I traipsed with him off to the local market. He waited patiently. We’d been there ages and he’d bought nothing. Then, suddenly, one butcher started shouting out price cuts. Within ten minutes, they were all at it. My pal compared all the end-of-day slashes, and bought up enough chicken to feed the entire Uni for little more than the price of a round.
I was once given word that part of my performance would be related to how much Services I sold. Post-sale techie days were never pushed vigorously, mainly because either a) the client balked at our per diem rate, or b) the line of least resistance is to avoid combining opex & capex budget requests. I also resented the fact that I wasn’t allowed to discount such days, and when my boss did on my behalf, the lost margin came out of my commission.
Yet now I see the light. I could have worked out who was in during the last week of a Month (or even better, a Quarter) and called up all my clients to tease them with a special rate. I could have lent it greater appeal and credibility by drawing a calendar onto a fax in those days too, with who was available and what their skill-set was. A kind of stock clearance, everything must go, one-time-only gig.
And of course, two further benefits would arise. You’d avoid cannabalising Service revenue, because you could pitch one-day for something one-off that wouldn’t ordinarily get done. And you can bet that once back in at some of your customers, the Service person would invariably trip over other opportunities for you.