Some things seem like they should be obvious.

Making direct requests of your prospects is one of those things that seems like it is just right, and that it should just work.

What Jeff Black wrote me yesterday shows this is not always true…

I have asked a number of prospects if I can see the bids they have already received. This question seems to go over as well as a fart in church.  And personally I don’t understand… Who has trained prospects that they have some freaking moral obligation to honor, protect and serve the very people who are out to make as many bucks off them that they can?

Some prospects think that by withholding the competitive bids from you that you will naturally come back with your lowest bid. They figure they’ll scare you into coming in low.

And many people are very uncomfortable negotiating for anything. So the only thing they know to do is to ask you to blindly give your "best bid" and then they will choose who they want to do business with.

Strange I know. Such is the world.

The problem is you are lacking power when making your request to see the competitive bids.

You are letting the prospect treat you like you’re just a lowly salesman by giving a bid with nothing in return in the first place.

Here’s how you regain your salesmanly power.

1) Find Pain You Can Solve That Relates to Your Unique Strengths

You mentioned in your email that you have some high profile customers and the best crews in your field.

Great. Now turn those around into questions that stir up the pain of not having what makes you the best company.

Find their pain and you gain leverage.

2) Position Yourself as THE Company To Do Business With

Trumpet your strengths louder. There are certainly some prospects that you are a better fit for than others. Make sure those customers know that from the start.

Position your company as having a specialty for those types of customers. Back this up with case studies and testimonials from your high-profile accounts.

When you do this, people are more attracted to your company and want to do business with you more.

Also the better you do this, the more people will pay.

3) Get Something of Value in Return for Giving a Bid

Prospects think bids are free, and a salesman’s time is free. And you are playing into that.

Start asking for something in return for your bids.

Ask the prospect to commit to giving you a decision on, or a frank assessment of, your bid *in-person* once you deliver it. Or ask them to recommend you to the final decision-maker if they like your bid.

Exactly what to ask for depends upon the specifics of your sales cycle – you can learn more here about how to personalize this to your sales cycle.

You may think that prospects won’t go for commitments like this, but when you do steps 1) and 2) right, they’ll agree to it almost every time.

A lot of the secret to holding the power in sales is timing. Give something too soon and you lose it. Give it too late, and you are out of the game.

Trade and ask for the right things at the right time, and you can close a very high percentage of your sales, while knowing which ones to walk away from early.

Sell with Pride,

-Shameless Shamus