The Best Sales Question Ever
BY TOM REILLY
In three-plus decades of sales training, the audience ques- tion that sticks in my mind above all came from a veteran salesperson in Cody, Wyoming. He asked, “Tom, how
would you handle this situation? A customer invited three
of us (competitors) into his office and said, ‘This is what
we are willing to pay for this item. If we can all agree that
our target price is reasonable, I want you to go back and
prepare a presentation for why I should buy this from your
company. Remember, we’ve taken price off of the table.’
We looked at each other and smiled. It was a great price
for any of us. We couldn’t believe our good fortune. Now,
all we had to do was design a non-price presentation. How
would you handle this, Tom?”
I paused for what must have seemed like an eternity.
I wanted to take it all in. I wanted it to soak in with the
group. What an incredible question! I don’t remember my
response as vividly as I do the question, but I’m sure it
went something like this. “Pete, this is every salesperson’s
dream scenario. The customer has taken price off of the
table and you get to compete based on the value of your
solution, not the price. It will take me a while to answer
this because I want to frame my response in the context of
According to Industrial Distribution’s “68th Survey
of Distributor Operations: Challenges, Trends & The Econ-
omy,” price competition is the top concern for distributors.
It is a perennial top concern for most distributors. Can you
imagine a sales scenario where price competition is not
a concern? What if price were not an issue? What if you
could make price resistance go away? What if buyers made
purchasing decisions on non-price issues? How would you
sell? What story would you tell? How compelling would
your presentation be?
You can make price less of an issue if you build a presentation around your three dimensions of value.
First, demonstrate the value of your products. Describe
the features and sell the benefits. Features answer the
question, “What is it?” Features include the size, height,
weight, color, packaging options, RPM’s, material composition, and of course, price. Benefits answer the question,
“What does it do for the customer?” Benefits help customers control costs, save time, innovate, ensure the quality of
their operations, achieve greater efficiency, manage risk,
operate safely, build teamwork, and make more money?
Second, demonstrate the value of a partnership with
your company. Describe the full menu of value-added
services that your company brings to the table. How easy is
your company to do business with? How flexible are your
policies? How is the depth and breadth of your inventory?
How much technical support and training do you offer?