Grassing Dutch Auctions

Charming sushi in 32° Cape Town heat, with a pal that’s just set up on his own selling artificial turf.  He asked me how to deal with a particular type of sales situation in 30secs as he raced off to spend the weekend among kite-surfers on the West Coast.

His issue was with people who, after he provides rough prices, tell him that he’s the most expensive of the three quotes they’ve received.  So far, he’d been sticking to his guns and replied that those were his rates.  The conversations ended, no deal done.  My immediate advice was to respond with:

“I see, well in my experience people either say that because they like what they hear about our service and approach and do want to deal with us, or rather they’re looking for a fall guy to help make a Dutch auction.  Which of those is you?”

I suggested that any reaction other than them hinting that they are in the former camp, means you simply state “thanks for considering us, we’re not the supplier for you, all the best with your sourcing and hope it all goes well for you”.

The (I suppose small, but infinitely higher than the current zero) proportion that play ball can then start to be reeled in with gambits such as “so if money wasn’t the issue we’d be signing everything off now?” and, “which parts of the overall package are you happy with then?” so you can start to justify your price premium.

I also suggested one further ploy should you encounter a mischievous buyer, and seek to confirm whether they are in fact comparing apples with apples.  Often in these cases, the competitor quotes can somehow conspire to miss off a huge chunk of the cost, so it’s best to highlight wherever this occurs; under the guise of “seeing if there’s anything you can do”, you can always ask to see the other quotes.

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