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“If Benjamin Franklin had picked someone to teach the lessons in self-mastery that he used in his life, he would have picked Bob Burg.”

~ Vic Johnson, Founder AsAManThinketh.net

What James Suggested Next

July 2nd, 2010 by Bob Burg

In the previous article we heard from James Stevenson of Virtual Aviation in the United Kingdom, who was feeling challenged by a prospect who wanted a lower price for James’ services.

It was determined that since the challenge most likely had more to do with perceived value than it did with price, that the best alternative was to help the prospect to understand the value rather than lower the price.

Many of you had some terrific comments that I hope will be read and learned from (speaking of value, I’m continually impressed by how much value your comments add to my articles – thank you!!)

James then suggested something he would do next if his prospective customer decided not to use his company’s services, and that was to refer him to one of his competitors who sold their services less expensively.

Now, I know there are those who will “go ballistic” when hearing this and think that – by my encouraging this – I’m not living in the real world of sales and business. But, I’m telling you, speaking on a strictly practical level, it is one of the most profitable moves one can make.


1. It demonstrates that you care more about satisfying your prospect’s needs than about yourself. That right there is a huge demonstration of value; the type of value you would provide if the prospect were to decide that it probably would be a good idea to pay a little more…for that extra value.

2. It shows you have confidence (and if you have confidence, you are probably really good at what you do). People who don’t have confidence don’t refer business – even lost business – to a competitor. This is also very attractive to your prospect.

3. It very nicely and tactfully says (without actually saying it), “If you want the cheaper, less value-based product, go there. When you’re ready for true value at the correct (and higher) price, this is where you’ll come.”

And, you are creating an alliance with a competitor who will most likely be grateful. And, while you never know how and where this last one will come back to you, it often does.

Great thinking James. And, while this was part of the story line of John David Mann’s and my book, The Go-Giver, and it’s something I often do in my business, I totally forgot about it. Again, showing just how much I learn…and re-learn…from my readers.

Again, please understand the practicality of this suggestion. You’ll be astounded at how often doing this results in their changing their mind and doing business with you directly. But, even when not, it often leads to their referring you to others who will. And, even if neither of those happen immediately, you’re continuing to plant those seeds of great will, many of which eventually will take root and lead to business. Now business…later business. It’s all good.

Meanwhile, please share your thoughts. Are there times you refer business to your competition? Have any of your competitors ever referred business to you?

* After posting this, it turns out we hear from James pretty quickly regarding his results.

7 Responses to “What James Suggested Next”
  1. […] Ego and the Sales Process Part 2 (Video) What James Suggested Next […]

  2. Dondi Scumaci said at 11:43 am on

    Such a paradox. Open your hands and you will leave with your arms full. This is a trust-building, confidence creating option. Sometimes the deal you “let go” turns out to be the seed of greater things to come. Great story.

  3. Carol Hasbrouck said at 12:10 pm on

    A great lesson indeed! Here’s another reason why it’s good to refer out business and join in referral partnerships with your competitors I was in the mortgage business for 19 years until June of last year when it finally wore me down and I found a new passion. Having been in the business for that long and having kept up with my customers, I still get calls about mortgages and I have no interest in handling this business. Guess who I refer them to? That’s right, the other loan officers who worked with me, not against me, for 19 years. Now they are reaping the benefits of keeping a cooperative abundant attitude from years back. You just never know when it will show back up in your life, but it always will!

  4. Bob Burg said at 12:13 pm on

    Dondi, you said it perfectly my friend…as you always do!!

  5. James Stevenson said at 3:55 am on

    I’m pleased to report back that it worked a treat. When the suggestion of helping him find a cheaper alternative was brought, he booked straightaway and at full price.

    By the way, on the subject of people trying to haggle their way to a big discount, I’ve found that avoiding round amounts works. For example, ask £4,000 and someone might offer you £3,000 or £3,500. But ask for £4,082.50 and there probably won’t be any haggling.

  6. Bob Burg said at 6:19 am on

    Hi Carol, my apologies; just saw your comment now. Again, our comments must have “crossed paths.” What a great lesson you taught. Thank you. (And it doesn’t necessarily take 19 years, either) 🙂

    James, awesome, my friend. Great job! And I know he’ll be ecstatic that he booked with you.

  7. Nancy Jones said at 4:09 pm on

    I agree completely, I provide a quality service and I have plenty of work to do. The people i serve are happy to pay for the service i provide. It’s possible that some customers don’t have to satisfy exacting standards; they can abide lesser service, maybe they don’t need ALL of what I do, and if that is the case, then those things which I do as a matter of course that they don’t need, those things have no value to them. They only have value to those who make use of them.

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