Why You Need To Avoid Underselling

Spend any amount of time coaching salespeople and you’ll quickly see commonalities amongst them. These include not only their strengths, but also, and maybe especially, their weaknesses. The most common trait salespeople share is fear of rejection.

That’s not unusual. Everybody likes being accepted, few people seek rejection. And it’s a common, easy mistake to think that the client isn’t rejecting the proposal, they’re rejecting YOU.

Where it becomes an issue is when that fear of rejection molds the salesperson’s selling process negatively. How that typically manifests is in the salesperson drafting a proposed project that falls short: not big enough, not grand enough, not expensive enough.

The root of that lies in the salesperson preemptively saying no on the client’s behalf. They’re afraid that if the client says “no” to any one thing, they’re going to say no to everything and the whole project will be rejected. Salespeople who are afraid of losing the whole project fear overselling the client. My response to that is to tell salespeople: Don’t be afraid of overselling the job; be afraid of underselling the job.

It’s important to draw the distinction that while it is important to not blow the client’s specified budget completely out of the water (at least, without fair warning), nor should you overspecify the job and add unnecessary complexity, it is even more important to not sell the client short.

There are two reasons for that.

The first is that it’s important to always flatter the client by offering them the the biggest, greatest showstoppers within the bounds of what they’re looking for that you can offer. No one is ever offended by being offered the best you have. You can’t say you gave their installation the “WOW” factor if you hold back on the wow, right?

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Also, if you don’t present the biggest, most expensive WOW you can offer, your client can’t agree to buy it. I mean, they might not buy it after all, but you won’t have any chance if you don’t at least present it first.

A secondary reason why you ought not to undersell your client, is the need to design in the ability to easily add more capability to the system in the future. That can cost money, but it can also be crucial to maintaining a successful long term relationship with the client. It is essential to clearly explain that concept to the client at the outset, setting the framework so they can make an informed decision on the future potential of their project.

You want the client to choose how far they’re willing to go, as opposed to you choosing their path for them based on your implicit prejudgments about what you think they want, or don’t want. It places the responsibility for the outcome in their hands not yours. Your job then is to successfully identify their needs by exposing customer to the range of possibilities, then planning and executing them.

One final point to be mindful of is that prospective clients will often understate their budget and overstate their requirements in an effort to see what extra value they can squeeze out of you on the deal. What someone tells you they want isn’t always what they really want (or expect).

Ultimately the price of the project will be determined by how badly they desire what you show them, not by what they first tell you they want to spend.