Often buyers (and other persuasion targets) will ask if they can do something out of the ordinary, some sort of customization to the sale. In the motorcycle business, one common question customers ask is, “Can we …”
Can we make it louder?
Can we make it faster?
Can we make it lower?
Can we make it shinier?
Can we make it …
Sometimes a buyers even asks all of those questions.
In other jobs, you might hear things like this:
Can we create our own color schemes?
Can we set our own fee thresholds?
Can we accelerate the timeline?
Can we not and say we did? (I’m kidding.)
Far too often in the act of persuasion, people get side-tracked on some customizing-research adventure before they’ve even closed in on the primary decision: Are we going to work together? Do we have a project? Do we have a deal?
If you allow your target to derail that primary decision, you will end up increasing the amount of effort expended and in all likelihood reduce the possibility of actually reaching a worthwhile decision.
When your target asks one of those “can we” questions, be ready with an effective and compelling response. As long as you believe the request is within the scope of possibility, one of my favorites responses goes like this:
If you can devise it, we can do it. We believe we have the best talent and most capable resources in the business. We can make just about anything a reality. Here’s what I suggest we do.
First, let’s pick the approach that’s right for you. Then once we get the basic agreement worked out, I’ll introduce you to our people and we’ll get busy.
Now, tell me more about …
Note that this reply assures the buyer you will be able to help, and that you’ve got the staff and resources to do so. Then, a transition statement takes you back to the primary decision that needs to be made.
This response helps you stay in control and not get sidetracked by all sorts of questions about customization.