A few years ago, I developed a relationship with a vendor of specialized point of sale equipment, who had not effectively incorporated the use of leasing into their marketing strategy.
One day I was speaking with a sales representative, Paul, over a cup of coffee and asked my usual question, “How’s business?” After crying the blues and blaming everyone but himself for his poor sales results, told me that he wanted out of sales, and felt he was better suited for a job that would provide him with a regular paycheck.
Feeling his frustration, I then asked Paul what attracted him to sales, and whether he really, deep down, wanted to leave the profession. He responded by telling me that he enjoyed the freedom, the potential to a lot of money, and more importantly, the tremendous sense of satisfaction he received by making a sale. And then proceeded to say that he really did not want to pack it in.
Having been involved with salespeople for a number of years, I offered to take him under my wing and work closely with him for the next month.
My intent was to condition him to start using leasing proactively and show him how it can be used to close sales. The first thing I asked him to do was to generate a list of “sitting tight” prospects-you know, the ones that were in thinking mode or putting the purchase on hold for a future date.
The second thing I asked him to do was to start making appointments with these companies where I would accompany him on the sales call. I gave him one week to do this and get back to me.
Three days later, Paul called saying that he had set an appointment on Tuesday at 10:00 AM with the owner of a company where he had previously provided a quote for 10 systems totaling $280,000. He proceeded to tell me that we are probably wasting our time as the prospect will not be purchasing anything until next year.
The prospect was a retailer which sold female beauty supplies including specialty soaps, body washes, and other skincare products. The company had 10 locations throughout Western Canada and wanted to replace its current antiquated system. It was September, the Christmas season was coming up, and the client had decided to put the acquisition on hold until the next year.
So, we met with the client and his opening statement was, “I don’t know why we are meeting again. I thought I made it clear that I am not going to proceed until next year”. I looked over at my protege’ and saw an I told you so smirk on his face, however, the prospect’s comment was music to my ears. I knew that we had a lot of digging to do, however, and with the right strategy and questions, we could quite probably turn this into a sale this year as opposed to next.
I took control and began asking questions.
Here’s how the conversation went…
Me: “So how long have you been looking at replacing your current POS system?”
Client: “About six months.”
Me: “Sounds like you have invested a lot of time in the process.”
Client: “I sure have. I have met with a number of vendors and it is not easy doing a full analysis of the various products available.”
Me: “Have you chosen a vendor or are you still looking at the specifications of more than one product?”
Client: “No, I’m definitely going with Paul’s product, but as I told him, I’m not doing anything until next year.”
Me: “I see. What is your reason for upgrading your current system?”
Client: “We carry a vast number of products, and our current system cannot handle the amount of small-ticket inventory. Paul’s system will allow me to better manage ordering procedures, and tell me what items are not moving.”
Me: “Are you telling me that there would be a substantial cost-saving, by installing the new system.”
Client: “Absolutely. It is now September, and I just don’t think it is feasible to have it up and running, with the staff fully trained in time for the Christmas season, which by the way begins in early November. I wish I had started sooner in the year.”
Me: “Paul, is it feasible to have your system fully operational with the staff trained by November 1st.”
Paul: “Absolutely! We have a dedicated team of service technicians and customer support trainers in all of the locations throughout Western Canada. In addition, we will assign a specific IT specialist to the project who will be available 24/7.”
Me: “It seems clear to me that Paul can meet your deadline and in fact will go there extra mile to ensure that the transition will be seamless. Do you have any reason to doubt him?”
Client: “No. I have checked their references and they seem to deliver on what they commit to. $280,000 is a lot of money you know.”
Me: “I recognize that, however, you did state that there would be substantial savings by replacing your current system.”
Client: “Yes, there are, however, we opened three new stores this year, and I’m not too keen on approaching my bank again for a loan or extension of my line of credit. To be prepared for the Christmas season, I have to use my line to buy a massive amount of inventory.”
Me: “If we were to set you up on a 4-year lease at about $7,300 per month, would you be prepared to move ahead and have the new system up and running by November 1st?
Client: I really prefer to own my equipment.”
Me: “With due respect, if a purchase is secured by a bank loan or line of credit, you really do not own the equipment. With a lease, you are in effect creating a separate credit facility outside of your conventional banking relationship. In addition, the lease payments are fully tax-deductible.”
Client: “In this business, 70% of my revenues are generated in November and December, and with a lease, I would be stuck with that $7,300 payment for the entire year. In months where my revenues are low.”
Me: “I appreciate that, and in fact, you are not unique. We have many clients in similar situations and have addressed the situations by providing what we call cash flow tailored leases. If we could provide you with a lease where 70% of your payments were made in November and December, and the remaining 30% were spread throughout the remainder of the year, would you be willing to move ahead with the new equipment today, rather than waiting until next year?”
Client: “You can do that?”
Client: “Sure. I think that would work.”
Me: “In that case, I will prepare some exact numbers for you and come back this afternoon in order to get some credit information as well as your current financial statements. In the meantime, Paul will prepare his documentation, and we will get the order placed.”
Client: “Sounds great. Can you be back here around 2:00? I’ll have my information ready for you.”
Me: “Perfect. See you then.”
There you have it!
A Win-Win-Win situation. Paul got the sale, the client got the much-needed point of sale system sooner rather than later, and not to mention, I got the lease.
Why was this sale made?
First of all, Paul, the sales representative was willing to walk away from the sale today, and wait until next year. He failed to realize that the opportunity was still there, however, he was not aware of the tools and resources available to him to be able to close the sale today.
As with many prospects, the client hid the real objection. In this case, the real objection was financial in nature, and due to the expansion during the year, he was reluctant to approach his bank again.
By bringing in a leasing specialist, Paul was able to add a new dynamic to the sales process, and ultimately solve the financial issue for his client. This particular situation involved a great deal of creativity in order to first identify the needs of the client, and secondly, present a solution that closed the sale.
Naturally, a sales representative like Paul would not be expected to have the same level of knowledge as a leasing specialist, however, in order to be properly equipped, should have an awareness of what type of leasing flexibility is available.
This provides an excellent example of how leasing can be used to control and close a sale. Be sure to involve Keltex Financial early in the sales process, and let us help you make the sale and help your client.