Motivating a prospect is a specific and tricky business. Recently I shared an example on one of our monthly Mastermind Group Coaching Calls, which started off on the wrong foot but fortunately became a success story.
During one of our Efficiency Sales Professional Boot Camps I was approached by a student who was frustrated with one of his prospects: a five-star resort hotel with a boiler that had failed. They were dragging their feet about making an upgrade. It cost $80,000 for a like-for-like replacement and $100,000 for a high-efficiency version, which, of course, was the superior product this student was offering.
So how was he going to get them to make a decision that was 25% more expensive than his competition? Well, at first, he sent them the typical boiler proposal, focusing on the features and technical benefits. Nothing happened for several months.
He consulted with me on this. He said, "I can't believe these guys. They've been renting a boiler for $7,000 a month for four months. That’s $28,000 lost in rental expenses and they still can't decide whether they want to spend $100,000 rather than $80,000 to replace this boiler! I think they’re just stuck in the mud. What do I do?"
I told him, "Go home tonight and write four or five reasons why they absolutely need to replace this equipment with yours." Sure enough, he did that. The next morning, he came in before our class began and I helped him write and edit a one-page proposal. He sent it off, then we waited.
A few days later he received word that the out-of-state owner of the hotel had acted immediately and approved the purchase of the more expensive boiler. What had worked this time? What was the difference between one proposal and the other?
I’ll tell you. The difference was taking a step back from the bits, bytes and blinking lights of the boiler technology and putting himself in that hotel owner’s shoes. As a result, the perspective of his proposal had shifted, the logic funneling down to this:
You’re a five-star hotel. Almost everything you do to make money is related to hot water: your spa, your pool, your steam room, hot showers for your guests. Hot water is an integral part of creating value for your luxury resort hotel guests. When you lose hot water in a 600-room facility, it affects hundreds of people staying there, each of whom are paying several hundred dollars a night. What did the original boiler failure do to your reputation? How does it affect your hotel ratings? What if it happens again?
There were other reasons as well, not the least of which was the life-cycle cost of the new boiler. If you talk about the finances of a hotel, that's a revenue-producing asset. The net operating income is important. The average daily room rate is important. The revenue per available room is important. Purchasing the boiler plays into those things.
In a nutshell, this is what we used to make the project move forward. First, you need to point out why delaying a project would be detrimental. Second, use your knowledge of the industry to make comparisons between how much they could save in maintenance and energy. Third, relate those savings to the metrics they’re already using to measure their success. Making your project urgent and relevant trumps a 100-page technical proposal any day of the week.