How to sell an $85 bottle of water and why you shouldn't want to

George Brontén

I recently got back from Vegas. I was at a conference there, staying in a very nice, high-end hotel. The hospitality was delightful. The room was beyond comfortable. The view was spectacular. Everything was great.

When I arrived, there was a very nice display of refreshments on the table, and a note welcoming me and encouraging me to have a wonderful stay. The curtains opened slowly, displaying the Las Vegas strip. All well staged.

I steered clear of the drinks and snacks in the mini fridge, which included a price sheet alerting me to the financial stupidity of such indulgence. But the display on the table had no such warning, and I appreciated the hospitality.

Each evening, I’d grab a bottle of water to hydrate while working and reading. While I was out, the hotel’s housekeeping staff would come into the room, tidy it up, replace the bottle of water, and leave a mint on my pillow.

It was lovely.

I think you know where this is going.

I thought I was getting free water.

I mean, “free” in the sense that it was included in the exorbitant price of the room. It seemed to me a pleasant and inexpensive way for them to build loyalty and show that they value their guests.

Maybe it’s because I’m Swedish and we do things differently here. Maybe I’m naive. Maybe this hotel was sneakier than most.

But by the time I checked out, that “free” water had cost me $85. I paid my bill and left. The hotel got me. They “won.” They added an extra $85 to their revenue for my stay, thanks to their sneaky tactic, and I didn’t even fight it.

But did they actually “win”?

They gained $85, but they lost a customer. They lost the warm, fuzzy feeling I had developed for them over the course of what was, otherwise, a wonderful stay. They lost any future referrals I might send them.

All for the lack of a simple little sign indicating the cost of the water. Which I probably would have purchased anyway.

It wasn’t the fact that they charged me for the water. It was the fact that they didn’t tell me they were charging for it until I checked out.

Are you doing this to your clients?

Some sales organizations continue to operate on an outdated model that uses pressure and “tricks” to part customers from their money.

When a customer feels they’ve been manipulated, they usually won’t come back.
George Brontén

Maybe that “works” in a transactional environment some of the time. But it poisons the well and is especially toxic for complex b2b sales.

When a customer feels they’ve been manipulated, they usually won’t come back. And often, they’ll leave bad reviews. They certainly won’t refer their friends. And they’ll speak badly of you to others inside their organization.

In complex b2b sales, you might sell a large contract using tricks, occasionally, but if your customer ends up angry, you’re going to lose more than revenue. You’re going to lose reputation, goodwill, and access to portions of your network.

As sales leaders and executives, it’s important to ensure that your salespeople aren’t operating under the mistaken notion that tricking customers into making a purchase is okay. Training should focus on better practices, and coaches should check in regularly to make sure these greasy tactics aren’t sneaking their way in.

This is especially important when you’re on-boarding experienced salespeople. It can be tempting to let high performers simply go their way and do their thing, but if they learned bad habits from a previous job, they may bring those habits to your organization and damage your customer relationships.Don’t let them.

Are your vendors doing it to you?

Even if you’re confident that your team isn’t selling $85 bottles of water, it may be happening to you. In fact, it’s happening to most of the sales organizations I talk to.

What do I mean?

I mean that you may have purchased elements of your sales stack under the assumption that you were getting the functionality you need… only to find out later that you have to add plugins, storage space, and other “extras,” in order to get it to work as you need it.

The world’s best-selling CRM (you know the one) uses an $85 bottle of water tactic that you’re probably familiar with. They offer a low-cost “per user” fee that looks really attractive. But by the time you spend money on custom coding, consulting, plugins, storage space, api usage, and everything else that you need in order to get it to do what you want it to do, you’ve spent substantially more than you budgeted for.

It becomes a money pit and, unfortunately, your brain is wired to stay in it...

To toot our own horn a bit, Membrain isn’t like that. All our pricing is transparent, including the implementation - our ClearPath Promise guarantees it. And our product provides all of the functionality you need to enable your sales team to reach its highest potential–no expensive custom coding or excessive plugins required.

Talk to us today for a demo and a guaranteed quote, and say goodbye to $85 bottles of water.

George Brontén
Published November 14, 2018, written by

George Brontén

George is the founder & CEO of Membrain, the Sales Enablement CRM that makes it easy to execute your sales strategy. A life-long entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in the software space and a passion for sales and marketing. With the life motto "Don't settle for mainstream", he is always looking for new ways to achieve improved business results using innovative software, skills and processes.

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