Sales Training Exercise: “How to Handle the Prospect That Wants to Get Three Bids”

The Drill

You know the drill. You meet with a prospect that wants you to bid against two other competitors. What should you do? How should you handle this? Below is the transcript of a Role Play with a client during a sales training session that demonstrates exactly how to handle this type of situation.

Here is what the client, Ryan Fuchsel, said about this Role Play we did in the Sales Training Session:

“There is some real gold in here. It would be worth laminating it and studying it like it was a multiplication table. Steve Clark is spot on when he say’s you don’t need to be an expert in signage at this stage of the game. We are simply making the other vendors (bidders) look like product pushing salesmen that could care less about the needs and wants of the prospect. This is where we win the sale, by differentiating ourselves. “

If you are smart you will study this Role Play very closely and practice the lines like a good Hollywood actor.

Role Play

Salesperson: (meeting the prospect for the first time face to face) I know we talked a little bit on the phone about your project. Can you briefly review again what you want, what you’re looking for here.

Prospect: I’m looking to replace the three scoreboards we talked about. I’m looking to have something that is easy to use, cost effective and low maintenance.

Salesperson: Mr. Prospect how are you going to know which company is going to provide for you the product that is going to be maintenance free, easy to use, and at the same time be cost effective? How are you going to make that decision?

Prospect: By looking at what the three different options are and trying to determine that way.

Salesperson: Mm Hm. And how many signs have you bought in the past?

Prospect: I was involved in the main sign out front. I wasn’t the final decision maker on that but…

Salesperson: Mm Have you ever gone through a bid process where you’ve gotten three or four bids from somebody?

Prospect: Yeah. That’s the way we do business. Everything that we buy has to get three bids.

Salesperson: Ok. Have you ever gone through that process thinking that was going to provide for you the ideal solution, and then, somehow in that process of making your final decision you ended up being somewhat disappointed with it, or it didn’t perform as well as you wanted it to?

Prospect: Yeah

Salesperson: Do you wanna do that again?

Steve’s Commentary: You must make the prospect see that this process is the wrong way to go about making business decisions. This questioning technique takes advantage of the fact that most buyers don’t trust themselves to make good decisions. By doing this, you are creating doubt in him about himself, and you are positioning yourself as the assistant buyer that will help him avoid making a poor decision. Most buyers will gladly give up making the decision if they think you are an expert that can help. This advanced psychological technique is all about positioning you as the expert.

Prospect: No but, I don’t wanna make a mistake again. Uh, unfortunately I have to adhere to the three bid process. I have to have three different companies bid it.

Salesperson: What happens if you make the wrong decision?

Prospect: Well I got kind people to answer to because we’ve raised a lot of money in the community for this and we wanna make sure we are doing the right thing.

Salesperson: And how are you gonna know that, looking some piece of paper that’s got a bid on it?

Prospect: Well, just when I fire it up on Friday night it works. And I don’t have to worry about it.

Salesperson: Yeah, that’s a little too late though isn’t it? If it doesn’t work?

Prospect: Yeah. Absolutely.

Salesperson: Wouldn’t you rather know up front, that you’re making the right decision?

Prospect: Yeah. Yeah I would.

Salesperson: Ok. Wouldn’t you agree that the key to making sure you get the right solution to your issue is picking the right company to do business with? If you pick the right person to work with you are going to get the right solution to the problem. If you pick the wrong person you are going to get the wrong solution and you’ll be sorry for it. Agreed? If you pick the wrong company to do business with, would it be fair to say that it might not perform the way you want it to, or it may be more costly to maintain or more difficult to use?

Prospect: Yeah.

Salesperson: Do you want to take that kind of chance?

Prospect: No

Salesperson: So the key is picking the right company. Do you want to me to help you pick the right company?

Prospect: Yes.

Salesperson: Ok.

Prospect: Yeah, absolutely. I mean that’s why I brought you out here.

Salesperson: I’m curious, when the other guys came out here and they talked with you and they asked you the kind of questions I’m asking you, what did you tell them?

Prospect: Well they came out, they took some measurements, and just asked what colors I wanted and that was really about it.

Salesperson: Yeah, sounds like they were salespeople. Trying to pitch a product

Prospect: Aren’t you a salesperson?

Salesperson: Is that what you want me to be?

Prospect: Not necessarily no.

Salesperson: See the problem is if you think of me as a salesperson, then we are having the wrong conversation.

Prospect: Mm Hm

Salesperson: I’m a consultant to help folks with their electronic messaging. I happen to offer signage, but that is not what I do. I help people make the right decisions. To invest their money wisely about signage needs they have. So the question I have for you is do you want to work with salesperson or do you want to work with a signage consultant?

Prospect: Well I’d like to work with someone who will educate me.

Salesperson: I understand. What I am hearing is that you want to work with someone who will reassure you that you are making the right decision and not just a salesperson. Is that correct?

Prospect: Yeah

Salesperson: Good cause if you want to work with a salesperson, I’m the wrong guy, and we probably don’t need to go any further.

Prospect: Yeah. I don’t wanna be sold anything. I wanna make the decision for myself based on good information.

Salesperson: Ok. Can I be real honest with you? At this point I’m not sure I even want to participate in the bid process, or the quote process. Would you like to know why?

Prospect: Yes.

Salesperson: ‘Cause based on what your telling me right now, and what my experience is, when it’s all said and done you guys are probably going to buy the cheapest thing out there. And I don’t want to be a part of that process.

Prospect: Um, I can appreciate that, I mean, like I said I’ve got only so much money, I can’t get any more money. So if you present me with something that’s three times what I have available to spend, I mean, I just can’t do it. I understand that there’s, there’s different levels of product and, and usually the better the price indicates the better product. However, I have what I have.

Salesperson: Exactly. And I, I understand that. I totally understand that. But if you’ve got ten dollars to spend, you wanna make sure you get eleven dollars worth of value out of ten dollars you invest. Right?

Prospect: Oh yeah.

Salesperson: Absolutely. I would not presume to try and act like a used car salesman, try and up sell you on something greater than what you have a budget for. You tell me what kind of budget you have and I’ll put together the absolute best thing that can be put together for that budget. Fair?

Prospect: Well, we’ve raised twenty thousand dollars. That’s, that’s what we have.

Steve’s Commentary: Let’s just stop there for a second. That’s how you deal with the bid budget type of thing. In fact, that’s how you deal with a lot of stuff. You take over. You take control. If you reread this you will discover that the whole conversation was about how they make their decisions, not about my product or my service or my company. It was about positioning me as THE trusted advisor.

The whole purpose of this strategy is to demonstrate that I am THE GUY to do business with. I’m THE GUY. And that’s what all your prospects are looking for. They’re looking for the person they can trust. And once they emotionally find somebody they feel good about, then everything else falls into place.

I am particularly interested in your thoughts, comments and feedback on this post. Please take the time to comment. I work real hard to put this out for consumption and I would like to know if you find value in this sort of post.


Great and very useful. I would be happy to read more on this subject.

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