Are you a headline or bottom line person? 10 questions to ask any salesperson.

The truth is we’ve all been there… A great headline offer followed up swiftly by the disappointing bottom line close. Its enough to make you mad!

It’s the main reason that we treat our customers in the way that we ourselves would wish to be treated i.e. with honesty even if at times this means hearing news we fear.

That’s why when we scrape through the glossy headlines and get down to the ruthless analysis of the facts we often discover that often the headline figures is either not achievable or, frankly speaking, misleading.

So why is this the case?

In the end I guess that we are all “good news” people – who wants to be a perpetual Mr Grumpy viewing the world with distrust and the sure assumption that at some point we will be let down? In our lives we often use specialists hoping that they will give us honest and impartial information and to act in an ethical fashion. Although many salespeople operate such an ethical stance there will always be those who set out to mislead, so how do we identify the truth from the untruth? You can use these 10 questions to understand not only the headline facts but also the underlying bottom line to any deal…

  1. What is the exact purchase price and (if applicable) what is the exact monthly lease purchase cost?
    • This is important but should be read in conjunction with #2. For lease purchase deals most companies will be able to give a guide price based on a majority of customers but this does not constitute a formal offer! Until the documents are actually in front of you to sign the formal offer is not on the table so great care should be exercised if purchasing by this method as signing for the capital expenditure without the formal offer in place commits you without the actual funding / quoted price being achievable.
  2. Is this everything I need to do the job fully?
    • Obvious but worth asking. Quite often upgrades or additional equipment may be required for all jobs to be completed as it would need to be.
  3. Is all the paperwork required by law / specification included?
    • For some installations legal or other paperwork may be required. Ensure that this is included, or otherwise, ensures that you will be legally compliant and aware of any additional costs.
  4. Is the equipment your own or bought out?
    • It is not necessarily critical that the company both supply and manufacture the equipment they sell as re-selling is fairly common and quite often you might be able to get a good deal from a local supplier compared to a national company although of course questions 5 & 6 become more important for those individuals.
  5. Do you hold spares for the equipment we are purchasing?
    • An absolutely critical question. Whilst you would expect a manufacturer to have parts from stock any kind of “distance” between sources i.e purchasing through a local agent, requires caution as even well maintained mechanical equipment is liable to breakdown in an unplanned fashion.
  6. Do you have servicing / maintenance capability and if so how are breakdowns handled?
    • With the risk of an unplanned breakdown, it makes sense to understand how this eventuality would be handled and the likely timings that will be involved. You can be sure that all unplanned breakdowns will occur at the most inconvenient time!
  7. What are yearly running costs of the equipment?
    • Yearly running costs can vary dramatically and so this is an absolutely vital piece of information to gain before the sale is completed. A great headline deal can still hurt in the future if the yearly running costs are so high that before long the least expensive initial purchase starts to look very expensive indeed.
  8. What warranty comes with the equipment?
    • Again fairly obvious but manufacturer warranties can vary from 12 months to 5 years and a warranty is normally a cast iron guarantee of trouble free service since no sensible company would risk cost on warranty repairs without due cause to trust the product that they sell.
  9. Can you provide existing customers for us to talk to?
    • This probably only has limited usage as you are unlikely to be put in contact with a customer who has a strained relationship with the company at hand – however the information gained can be useful in terms of understanding reliability and response times on the occasions when problems were experienced.
  10. How long does your quote hold for?
    • This is a perfect question to close the meeting on – It gives you opportunity to consider your options outside of the “high pressure” sales meeting environment. The other benefit is that you can understand the drivers of the company – those hell bent on extracting a signature and deposit payment at all costs are more likely driven by target than a service level!

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