Why the CAR Process is essential when quoting a prospect
“Here’s my biggest frustration”
“Being told we’ve been beaten on price, then receiving vague feedback. Yes, that old chestnut.
I’ll ask if we were close, far away, how did we rank against other quotes, and usually the response is vague ‘you were competitive but not the cheapest’ or ‘you were close on some prices but far away on others’.“
This is what one of the readers of my “views from the buyer” newsletter told me recently. She was wondering what how to approach this problem.
It’s time to be tough with clients
Many printing companies do exactly what their prospects ask, time and time again. They carry on doing this even though they may be getting nowhere with this prospect. If they adopt this strategy, they do not have any control over the sales process with their prospect. There is probably no real relationship. These companies struggle to achieve the sale.
Printing companies that take a stronger position with customers are more likely to close the sale. They are more likely to achieve their targets. This is because they have decided to take control of the sales process.
One way to achieve this is to use the CAR Process.
So what is the CAR Process?
CAR stands for Check, Agree, Refuse. It’s a great way to memorise a three-stage process that you should use every time you quote a new prospect. Let’s go through each stage.
1. Check the prospect’s buying process
Before agreeing to provide any pricing to a potential customer, you should understand their buying process. Why are they asking you for a quote? Many buyers ask for a quote simply to get rid of a persistent sales person. Others want to use new prices to beat down their current suppliers.
Not all buyers are open about this, so how do you find out their real intentions? One of the most effective ways is to ask about their new supplier approval process. If you have the right price, how do you get registered on the customer’s system? What checks do you have to go through? A buyer that is serious about a new supplier will be able to answer these questions. Prospects that are simply price checking will often struggle to give a sensible answer.
Assuming that you are happy about your prospect being open to use a new supplier, can you simply go ahead and quote? Actually, no. There’s one more stage to go through.
2. Agree what happens after you have quoted
If you are going to the trouble of providing a price for your prospect, you have the right to feedback. However, it is important to make sure that your buyer understands this. That’s why you should always make an upfront agreement.
In order to do this, ask your prospect to give you feedback after you have submitted your quote. Make sure that you agree to this before you produce the quote. And make sure you specify the amount of detail you want. Saying you were too expensive does not count as feedback! Naturally, you may need to remind the buyer of your agreement!
I would always advise asking how long they will need to analyse your quote. This means you can ask for feedback at the right time. I always hate it when suppliers ask me for feedback 30 minutes after sending through an estimate!
Now you have the right agreement in place, it’s a lot easier to deal with any prospects who do not keep to their side of the agreement.
3. Refuse to quote
If a prospect does not give you feedback, in turn you can decline to do any more pricing for them. Then you will no longer be pricing in the dark for uncooperative clients.
Some sales people are unsure about adopting this approach.
“It’s time to be tough with clients” https://t.co/EM0L4QGnc5
— Matthew Parker (@PrintChampion) April 6, 2016
Doesn’t the CAR Process risk offending potential customers?
How do you feel about a prospect that won’t answer your questions, or agree to give feedback. How do you feel about someone who does agree to give feedback but then refuses to do so? Do you really want these sort of people for clients?
There is one exception to this rule. If you are producing a large amount of prices for a prospect, it may be unreasonable to expect them to spend the time giving detailed feedback on every single one. So agree feedback on specific items. This way the buyer I much more likely to find the time to give you the information that you want.
Let’s remember the CAR Process
- Check the prospect’s buying process
- Agree what happens after you have quoted
- Refuse to quote
It’s a useful system to avoid that “biggest frustration”.