As we quickly approach the end of the year, I am reminded of one of my biggest pet peeves – which is also one of the most misused methods for gaining commitments. This technique is called the “Opportunity Method.” If you want to see what it looks like, you can look at the automotive dealerships and the ads they are going to start running.
“We must get rid of all 2012 models!”
“Sale ends December 31, 2012!”
These types of tactics have trained consumers to wait. Yes, wait until the end of the year, quarter or month to buy because they know a better deal will be available. The fact is, if the sale ended on December 31, 2012 and I walked in the same dealership on January 1, 2013 and said I would only buy the 2012 car if I got the price they were offering yesterday, they would play games but eventually give it to me.
I coach sales professionals all the time who admit to using this method of gaining commitment in the same way. They will use fictitious deadlines to try to make the prospect buy and when the deadline passes and the prospect calls and says, “Okay, I am ready to move ahead, but only at the previously quoted price,” they give in. This destroys your credibility as a sales representative. The prospect knows they can bully you into lowering the price or extending your dealing.
There are normally three times when using the opportunity method for gaining commitment is a good idea:
1) Limited Number – When technology changes and last year’s model is no longer being produced; i.e. “We have three of the original iPods left in stock and when they are gone we will not be ordering any more.”
2) Limited Resources – When resources need to be reserved to meet the prospects’ timeline; i.e. “You mentioned that you needed to start rolling out your new offerings on January 14th. In order to meet your deadline, reserve a trainer and get your team up to speed on the new software, we will need the contract signed by December 10th and start training on December 17th. Otherwise we may have to push your target date out.”
3) Limited Time – When you truly have a “price increase.” i.e. “As of January 1, 2013 our prices on one-day seminars will be increasing. If you reserve a seminar now, you can secure this year’s pricing.” To maintain credibility after the increase is in effect, you can’t go back to the old price.
Remember these simple guidelines and you will increase your opportunity to be an effective and credible sales professional.
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