The final installment in the TAKEN film trilogy, starring Liam Neeson as Bryan Mills, was a blockbuster hit. In the original film, Mills, a retired CIA operative, must go to extremes to rescue his daughter after she is taken by human traffickers while traveling in France. In this most recent release, Mills is framed for the murder of his wife, Lenore. He then sets out to clear his name by going after the real killers, while also eluding capture from U.S. authorities that he formerly worked for. Liam Neeson is a fully certified Hollywood “tough guy.”
I wonder if this fictional character portrayed by Neeson can actually help address the business challenges facing our company and industry. If he was in sales, perhaps customer negotiation might sound a bit like this:[Click here to watch from TAKEN one of the best threats ever made to bad guys] Neeson, in this video clip, is on the phone with his daughter’s kidnapper.
I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want. If you are looking for low prices, I can tell you I don’t have it. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me invaluable for people like you. If you continue insisting on low prices, that’ll be the end of our conversation. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you. But if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you, and I will solve (kill) your business problems.
I bet you can’t help but chuckle right about now after reading this “slightly altered” famous quote from the original movie. However, I believe Neeson’s character demonstrates three important takeaways to drive better business results.
First, don’t lead with price. If you don’t know what the customer needs, don’t quote the deal – period! Like Neeson’s character, if you don’t know anything about the people you are dealing with and they’re shopping for price, then don’t do it. If you are leading with price, you are simply selling on price. Anyone can do it and selling on price is a fool’s game in most situations. The odds are that you are leaving millions of dollars on the table. To get it back, first sell the value and then the price, not the other way around.
Second, focus on solving the customer’s business problems. I recall a situation where I asked a top sales professional about what allowed him to stand out. Here’s what he said: I SOLVE PROBLEMS! Simplicity is so powerful. The difference between success and failure is solving real problems. If I ask, what is the business problem your customer is trying to solve, will you be able to tell me? If not, you really haven’t figured out what exactly is your value proposition. It is critical to determine what the “particular set of skills” you provide that is better than anybody else AND how you will “kill” the customer’s business problems? There is a simple rule I go by. If the value is not clear, your price will always be too high. Go figure out how you create value and then tell a compelling story. Confidence in your value proposition equates to confidence in your price.
Finally, build a strong backbone to execute your strategy. Simply put, you need to define who is and perhaps even more importantly WHO IS NOT your customer. Like Nesson’s character, he is focused on which customer to pursue as well as which ones not to pursue. What you are doing here is gaining understanding of what you offer, to whom you are offering it, and going about it in a really disciplined way. This will help create a defensible price structure, leading to improving revenue and profit results. Otherwise, you end up quoting all sorts of prices under all sorts of conditions and then every situation becomes ad hoc. Don’t end up making the classic mistake of selling a Cadillac to a Chevy Buyer at a Chevy Price.
So, would you hire Neeson’s character to sell for you or rather allow your full profit potential to be TAKEN from you?
Trivia: Did you know Liam Neeson is deeply involved in various charities and humanitarian projects? Click here to read Liam Neeson’s charitable initiatives.
About the Author: David Mok
David Mok (Harvard Business School, SMM 2014) is a global marketing executive, pricing champion & thought leader based in Boston, USA. David is a high-energy influential leader igniting execution excellence with strategic & innovative mindset. Visit David Mok’s Linkedin page to comment.