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What do you say when a customer says you’re too expensive?

Bert is a high flying executive searcher – call him headhunter –, and Marc is his customer. Listen in to their conversation.
“You’re too expensive, Bert.”
“What do you mean, Marc?”
“Your fee is too high.”
“I can’t believe my ears, Marc.”
“Come on, Bert. Don’t play dumb.”
“You’re the first person who ever told me that I’m too expensive.”
“Others might not dare.”
“What do you mean by too expensive. Marc? Too expensive compared to who or what.”
“It’s too much money.”
“Too much in comparison with the budget that you have for hiring?”
“No, that’s not it.”
“Compared to the competition?”
“You’re a lot more expensive than the other headhunters.”
“What’s the difference, Marc?”
“At least ten percent.”
“Ten percent. Mmm, interesting. Suppose that I would use the same fee as the competition, who would you work with, Marc?”
“Ah, you, of course!”
“And why would you work with us?”
“You know the industry, you find good candidates, you are professional. We have never had any problems with you.”
“Maybe it’s for all these reasons that I’m 10% percent more expensive, Marc.”
“That’s true, but I have to economize.”
“Suppose you are working with the cheap headhunter, and the result is not good, what would that cost you?”
“Well, uh.”
“What if it takes three months longer, or suppose that you do not get the right candidate. Or that you hire the wrong candidate, and that is bad for your business. What would that cost you, Marc?”
“I know where you are going with this, Bert, and you do it so cleverly, but I have to economize.”
“Why do you need to economize?”
“What sort of question is that? Business is not so good. Head Office says that we have to squeeze our suppliers. I am just doing what the bosses tell me to do, Bert.”
“Actually, you are doing this against your will, Marc.”
“Sure, do you think I enjoy putting suppliers under pressure?”
“What is the most important thing in your business, Marc?”
“Our people, of course!”
“You might run the risk of bringing the wrong people on board?”
“Again, you’re trying to scare the hell out of me, you sly fox, but that will not work, Bert.”
“Probably you would be better off economizing on your non-critical suppliers: electricity, leasing, photocopying …”
“We’ve looked at all options, Bert.”
“We’ve known each other a long time, Marc, and we’re not going to cause problems for each other.”
“Go on, Bert.”
“Suppose I were to consider the possibility of a minor discount, what would you do in return?”
“Then you can continue to work with us, Bert.”
“That is not a consideration, Marc, and that is not motivating for us.”
“You also need to consider our interest, remember the importance of your client, Bert.”
“I am willing to negotiate a new financial agreement, if we can do all the search work for you.”
“You want a monopoly.”
“You just said it yourself: We know the industry, we nd good candidates, we are professional. You have never had any problems with us. Direct quote. I am looking at your interest, Marc. What do you think?”
“We might want to look into this…”
“Are you still a fan of Anderlecht? We can discuss it this weekend in the corporate box at Anderlecht…”
“You’re incorrigible, Bert.”
“That’s what my wife always says, Marc.”

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