The Rodney Dangerfield of Sales (aka Mr. Low Price)

Ever wonder how Rodney Dangerfield came up with his signature, “I don’t get no respect,” line?  My guess is it first hit him when he still had his job selling aluminum siding.  Yep, that’s how he supported himself and his family before his big break on the Ed Sullivan Show.  Anyway, talk about a tough thing to sell!  How could you possibly differentiate your aluminum siding from their aluminum siding?

You have different styles; they have different styles.  You have different colors; they have different colors.  You can deliver it in 24 hours; they can deliver it in 24 hours.  And on and on and on…  The only thing you can do is lower your price.

That’s probably what got Rodney thinking about how when you get right down to it, zero knowledge or skill is required to offer a lower price.  Anybody can drop their price at any time.  Worse yet, the customer obviously knows it, and shows respect commensurate with that dismally low knowledge and skill requirement.  Ergo, “I don’t get no respect.”

So…  If you find yourself competing on price, you have three choices.

  1. Learn to love disrespect
  2. Become a famous comedian
  3. Differentiate yourself

For most of us, option 3 is the only choice.  Begin the differentiation process by carefully considering how option 3 is worded.  It’s not differentiate your product, or your service or your company.  It’s differentiate yourself.

Step one is a two-stage de-Rodney-izing process.  It’s easier to do so with a new customer; one that hasn’t already beaten you up on price.  Even if it’s a long-standing account though, it’s eminently doable.  The key to stage one is a  face-to-face, one-on-one conversation with the buyer at a time when no specific deal is being negotiated.  The objectives of the conversation are:

  • To establish the fact that that buying based purely on price requires exactly the same amount of knowledge and skill as selling based purely on price.  Zero.  Any knucklehead, Rodney-type can do it.
  • To understand and document the buyer’s decision process and criteria (See this blog post for a few thoughts on how to get this done.)

I won’t insult your intelligence by scripting the call out.  We all have our own styles and need to fit what could be a bit of a touchy dialogue into it.  I will, however, possibly insult your intelligence by pointing out that de-Rodney-izing requires a bit of diplomacy on your part.  …along with a dollop of courage.  Don’t wimp out and avoid the conversation.  If you do, you’ll remain Rodney and get no respect.

Stage two of de-Rodney-izing gets more involved, is a lot more fun and consists of Value Positioning and the Value Proposition Development Process.  That takes more space than a single blog post, so click over to this article for a framework for executing stage 2.

So what’s it gonna’ be?  Staying Rodney and selling on price?  Or moving up the food chain and behaving like a legitimate business decision facilitator?

Don’t get Rodneyed!!!

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Rick Howe says:

    Todd,
    Sometimes a sales person will need to sacrifice a sale to establish or re-establish themselves as providing value and being different from the rest or resisting the “low price” temptation. You can’t win them all and you don’t want them all. A must to in your step 3.

  • Rick – Great point. A lost sale hurts, but it’s still just toll on the road to selling value. – Todd

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