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March 12, 2013

Getting the “Special” Treatment

by mrshmooze

So I had a clogged drain in the kitchen recently. I tried a few of the usual remedies that never work, like liquid drain stuff and then I relented and called a plumber. Actually, not a plumber . . . that would be unfair to guys I really respect. I called one of those national companies that specifically address blockages. You know, the crackerjack order intake system, “The ‘specialist’ will be there between 10 and 12 and will call you first,” so I sat down, switched on a ballgame and waited. Sure enough the call came in and the “specialist” showed up. He fished around a little and said, “That is a deep clog . . . my estimate for the work is $400.” 

Now, I cannot claim to be particularly mechanically inclined, but since I clogged the sink I knew it was not a “deep clog,” and I also knew from past experience that it usually takes about 15 minutes to fix this type of problem. So even though the “specialist,” had dramatically unpacked all his stuff and laid it all over the kitchen floor for effect, I told him to get lost and walked him to the door. He then turned to me and asked, “Well, what did you have in mind?” I told him I have usually paid around $80 for this type of service. The man winced and left and I called a real plumber.

A few minutes later the doorbell rang and I was surprised the plumber was so fast, but it was not the plumber . . . it was “the specialist.” He said, “I talked to my supervisor and he said we could do the job for $100.” “Really?” I said. “How about $50 since you have already wasted so much of my time?” He was pretty flustered at that point and took off for good. The regular plumber showed up a little later, fixed the problem in 15 minutes and charged me his minimum house call rate . . . $75.

So what is my point? As salespeople, we have to be very, very careful with how we present our pricing and, once we have quoted a price, we have to have the courage of our convictions, at least within a reasonable range, or two things happen:

      1.  The customer will never trust our pricing again.
      2. The customer will never trust US again, nor our company, and once that sense of credibility and trust are gone, they are pretty much gone forever.

To be clear, I am not knocking price negotiation . . . it is a natural part of business. What I am saying is to be very careful about presenting and discussing a price. Be sure you present something that falls into a range that the customer feels is within industry standards and if you decide to reduce the price, it should be done carefully and with sense of value in the discussion. The customer wants to feel like he has done an intelligent job negotiating a good deal for good value, not that we have tried to, how do I put this delicately, “take advantage” of him. The “specialist” and his company lost me, and they lost everybody I know, not so much by trying to stick it to me, but by virtually admitting it to my face through an ill-advised, poorly handled price discussion.

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