Situational Buyer Type: From Value Buyer to Poker Player

Posted by Saad Shahzad on Jun 7, 2017 5:55:58 PM
Saad Shahzad
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When we train people on Negotiating with Backbone, every now and then we get the question, “Can a buyer type change at different times?” The answer we give is, “Yes, it depends on the situation.” Today I want to share a situation I went through while getting an oil change for my car.

The little sticker on the windscreen reminded me that the oil change was past due, so reluctantly I headed the nearest garage. While waiting in line, the salesperson showed me a list of options for the oil-change. Being a pricer, I studied the product tiers, e.g. synthetic, blended, regular, etc. Thinking about what I put my car through, I felt I owe it the best oil; I went for the highest-value offering, i.e. the full synthetic. My behavior in this case is clear; I am a value buyer, and I paid the highest price to get it.

Later, as they were changing the oil, the sales person asked if they could look at the air filter. I knew the air filter would be in terrible shape (since I rarely change it), and the salesperson would try to sell me on changing it, too. The salesperson took out the air filter and, to no one’s surprise, declared it was dirty and it needed to be changed. That was the moment I decided to test my negotiations skills a little bit.

So, when the sales person asked if I wanted to replace it, I took a pause and acted like the filter was in good shape. I asked him, "Pass some air through it and it will be brand new." I even made an astonished faced when I heard the price. To my surprise, the sales person folded. He said he could get me $15 off. Of course, I said yes (knowing how dirty the filter was), and now I have a new air filter.

The point here is that I revealed my buyer type in the beginning by buying the high-value oil change offering. Later I turned and started playing poker to get a discount. Now that I am successful with it, I am going to play poker every time I go there. This is exactly how many B2B sales people train their clients to play poker and get a discount. In the above example, knowing how dirty the air filter was, there was no way I wouldn’t have changed it. If the salesperson had a lower-value offering to meet my demand of discounts, I would have easily revealed my motivation and gone with the high-value offering.

To be an effective salesperson, one should keep an eye out for buyer tells and apply tactics that reveal true buyer types.

Just understand that it’s a game, and the sooner you realize it, the better you can play it.

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