Rodney Miller

One of our greatest challenges in sales is trying to sell a large-ticket item to a budget-conscious buyer or one who had no idea of the price they would have to pay.

How can you move that customer from “sticker shock” into acceptance and finally on to making a purchase? Be prepared. This almost always takes more than one visit. Don’t be discouraged. If the need is there, someone will eventually make the sale. Be patient and educate this buyer on the general prices of competitors. Make them feel at ease that your prices are competitive and explain the benefits of ownership.

Let me relate a personal experience because I think it will help you. Many times in my life, I have had to get used to the cost of something new. I buy a new pick-up truck about every eight years or so. The joke is you never want to buy a used truck or car from me or my wife, because they are really worn out when we get rid of them. When you wait that long to buy, the price changes considerably. I experienced big time sticker shock myself recently.

I wanted to work with the dealer closest to me to purchase a new pick-up. After assessing some of my needs, he found a truck that more than met my needs. In fact, it was more equipment than I wanted, so the sticker shock was even more pronounced. Because the price was higher than I wanted to spend, I thought there might be cheaper way to get the truck I needed. That’s when the salesman made a key mistake. He did not pursue other options and took the attitude of “take it or leave it.” In great frustration, as this was a lot of money to me, I turned to the next closest dealer.

This next dealer’s attitude was totally different. He wanted desperately to sell me a truck and bent over backwards to do so. After going much more in-depth into my true needs, he decided I could take the next step down in cab style and still get the options I wanted. And I had one deal breaker: It had to be red. If you haven’t noticed, that is no longer a very popular color, so I guess I showed my age. Well, he did find one and saved me several thousand dollars. I still made a large-ticket purchase, after my true needs were determined. He made the sale — and made money. I got comfortable writing a big check, and felt good about the experience.

So what can we learn?

• Take the time to learn your customers’ true needs.

• Be very understanding of your customers’ concerns over price.

• Find the product that matches their needs.

• Don’t forget: It’s always about relationships, as I have mentioned in earlier columns. Be the friend everyone wants to buy from.

The rural lifestyle buyer may be one of the toughest groups of buyers to sell. Unlike big ag customers, they aren’t as experienced and are new to the marketplace. They are generally well educated, but are still learning a lot about the rural lifestyle, so we will always be educating them. However, that is both challenging and fun.

When selling to large farmers, sometimes they know the products as well as we do. Price and service become the only factors and relationship selling becomes even tougher. So, enjoy the challenges of rural-lifestyle selling as it can be very rewarding. You meet new people. Your customer list can be much larger and you can feel a sense of accomplishment.

As I travel the country now telling the stories of America’s heartland on my TV show on RFD-TV called “Small Town Big Deal,” I so enjoy stopping into local dealerships and meeting folks like you and hearing your success stories and your challenges. I am one of the biggest fans of rural America and always will be. The folks coming into your dealerships that are new to the life we all love may be apprehensive at first. However, they are at your dealership because they want to be part of a lifestyle that most of us take for granted.

Take time to share your love of that lifestyle with them. Your enthusiasm will be contagious. Hope to see you soon at your dealership on one of my trips to a small town near you or maybe even yours.

Rodney Miller is the host of RFD-TV’s “Small Town Big Deal,” which celebrates the great stories from America’s Heartland. He has been involved in agriculture his entire life, from working on the family farm and equipment dealership in Benton, Ill., to being CEO of McCormick International USA and Montana Tractors. He was also a territory manager for both Long and Mahindra USA tractor companies, managing dealerships in several states. He remains an avid collector of antique tractors and equipment.