Beware of the Nibbler

If you’ve been in sales for any length of time, it’s highly likely that you’ve had a run-in with at least one “nibbler.” No, a nibbler isn’t a person who nibbles on your ear (don’t you wish!); it’s someone who nibbles at the deal you’ve just made.

Nibblers are different than hagglers. Hagglers want to haggle over price and enjoy the sport of trying to get you to lower your price. Some people haggle because it’s part of their culture and they are trained from birth to never, never, pay the list or the asking price for anything. Others feel that they’ve got nothing to lose by asking for a better price and too often they’re right.

Let’s Make a Deal

Dumb as it may be, lots of salespeople will drop five or ten percent off their price just because they are asked. Not only is this a bad habit to get into because you’re giving away your profits, but you’re also training the customer to haggle with you the next time he wants to buy whatever it is you’re selling. If you gave him ten percent last time, he’s going to want fifteen percent the next time.

What these price-dropping salespeople fail to realize is that whenever they give away a dollar, they just gave away a dollar of profit, not a dollar of cost. It’s the profits that pay the salaries, keep the lights on, and keep your company in business. Give away too many of the profit dollars and eventually you no longer have a business.

Many salespeople feel that if they don’t give the prospect something, they won’t get the sale. While this is sometimes true, selling on price is never a good way to build a long-term relationship with your prospect. If would be better to convince the prospect that whatever you’re selling is worth the price rather than just lower the price to whatever the prospect feels it’s worth.

For poor salespeople who only have one crack at making a sale and who are unlikely to ever see the customer again, dropping the price is their primary selling tool. In general, selling on price is a poor habit to get into.

What’s the Difference?

Now that we’ve looked at the haggler, let’s take a look at his counterpart, the nibbler.

Nibblers are those people who don’t quibble about your price and will appear to be ready to buy but just before they get out their chequebook or write up the purchase order, they start to nibble.

It usually starts off with the prospect saying, “Now that you’ve made the sale, would it be possible to throw in a…” and they ask for a concession of some kind. It’s so easy and tempting to go along with the nibbler because, after all, you can already taste the order. It’s yours, all you have to do is just give this little concession. Beware. That first nibble was just that, the first.

Eating an Elephant

Then comes, “Oh, one more thing. Do you think you could also…” and another nibble has just been taken out of your hide. Once the nibbling process has begun, it is difficult to stop because each piece is so small that each little concession doesn’t really hurt. It’s only when the nibbler has finished nibbling that you realize that you’ve been attacked by a human piranha and there is very little left of the part of the sale called profits.

It’s like the bad joke about how do you eat an elephant? The answer, of course, is one mouthful at a time. How do you get the best of a salesperson? The answer, of course is, one nibble at a time.

What’s Worse?

There is no doubt that the nibbler is worse than the haggler. With the haggler you know that the haggling comes to an end as soon as you either put a stop to it or you negotiate the price reduction.

With the nibbler, you never know when it will stop. Just when you think the sale is in the bag, the nibbler pops up for another nibble with, “Just one more thing”¦” and the games continue.

Stop It

You can stop both the haggler and the nibbler very quickly and effectively. If you are asking a fair and honest price for what you are selling and you are comfortable that you have shown the value of your offering to the prospect, then all you have to say to his request for a price reduction or a nibble is:

“I really wish I could. Unfortunately, I can’t.”

That’s it!

Say this sincerely and with a smile on your face and what you’ll find is that most prospects will respond with, “Well, I had to ask” or “There’s no harm in asking.”

Remember This Rule

If you feel compelled, for whatever reason, to give away money or something else, remember my General Rule for Price Reductions:

“Don’t give away money without getting something in return.”

Get a concession from the prospect first before you start giving stuff away. If the prospect wants something from you, he should give first. It’s called the Law of Reciprocity. If you want to get, you have to give.

What can you ask for? Perhaps a larger quantity of whatever you’re selling would be appropriate, or early payment”¦ something. Even getting a solid referral or testimonial letter might be acceptable depending upon the size of the concession the prospect wants from you.

Part of the Game

Welcome to the game part of selling where the rule for success is “plays well with others.” Nibblers and hagglers are just two of the players in the game called selling. Understanding the players and how to deal with them is a sign of a sales pro. The more you play, the more you learn, the more you learn, the better you’ll play.

Happy playing.