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Generating alternatives August 26, 2008

Posted by rickbron in Bronder On People, Keeping Your Customers, Solving Business Problems.
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p5130012.jpg Anyone ever ask you to deliver something that was impossible for you to deliver? The Big Dogz know that if you say no to a customer, they will just go someplace else! Here is an example — you sell custom made widgets for $2000 and it takes at least 2 days to make one.

 

A customer wants to buy one of your custom made widgets, wants it delivered by the end of the day tomorrow and wants to pay $1000 for it.  What happens if you say no? Correct, the customer will go to your competition and ask for the custom widget.

 

How likely is it that your competitor will give the customer the widget for $1000 in one day? Not likely since you are the premier widget maker in the world. Perhaps the customer will try another competitor and get another no. Finally the customer will ask “What does a custom widget cost and when can I get it?” What are the odds that customer will come back to you to buy the widget? Yes, between slim and none!

 

Here is what the Big Dogz think with respect to customer requests:

 

Never say no to a customer. You don’t always say yes, but you never say no!

 

The answer is to provide alternatives to the customer — alternatives that you can deliver. All requests from customers have three components; the Asset, the Limit and the Task. Sometimes these are labeled cost, speed and quality. In order to quickly generate alternatives, look at the three components of a request. Use the mnemonic ALT to help you remember the alternative generator:

  1. Asset — this is the cost or resource required what the customer wants to pay. In the example it is $1000.
  2. Limit — this is the time frame that the customer wants the request fulfilled. In the example it is today.
  3. Task — this is the deliverable the customer wants. In the example it is the custom widget.

 

The key to generating the alternatives is to hold 2 of the 3 components constant while changing the third.  To generate three options in the example, we would do the following:

 

Paraphrase the request to verify. You would like a custom widget today for $1000. Is that correct? Do not attempt to tell the customer that the custom widget takes 2 days and costs $2000. This explanation is just another way of saying no!

 

Offer alternative one — I can give you a standard widget by the end of the day tomorrow for $1000. Let the customer vent or say whatever they like. Do not try to persuade them. Wait for them to finish talking, and then move onto the next step.

Offer alternative two — I can give you custom widget for $1000 if we get a return. I do not know when one may become available. Again, let the customer talk. Wait till they are finished, and then move onto the next step.

 

Offer alternative three — I can give you a custom widget in two days for $2000. Wait for silence before saying the next question.

 

Which of these tree alternatives best fits your needs?

 

There is a good chance your customer will pick one of the three alternatives. If they don’t, at least you have given them a benchmark to consider when evaluating the competition. They may find your offers the best they get and it will increase the probability they will return to purchase the widget from you.

 

Offering alternatives is an effective way to keep your customer and to help manage their expectations about your products or services.

 

 

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