Why You Sell Based on Price
As a sales rep, you struggle to sell print at YOUR price. Instead, you heavily discount your products and win only when your number is the lowest bid present. When faced with the “Your price is too high” objection, you crumble like a cheap suit on a broken hanger in the back of closet. This, of course, is not your fault. It’s the client’s. When are they going to learn about the value that you bring and buy from you because of your great service?
The profitable print sale is solution-based and starts with an understanding of the needs of the client. This way, the sales pitch is based not on one cost versus another but rather a new idea that creates a better outcome, be it a more valuable document or one with a lower usage cost. In this way, the print rep builds a reputation as a problem-solver and rarely competes on price.
So, why can’t you sell anything unless you have the lowest price? There are likely to be many reasons for this, but chief among them is your attitude and personal purchasing habits. That is, do you sell the same way that you buy? Let’s take a look …
Let’s say you were in need of a new computer. What kind of a process would you follow before you bought? Let’s take a guess:
1. You went online to do some research and to learn a bit about the basics: screen sizes, memory, weight, speed, etc. You ended up with a decent base, but it got a bit overwhelming after a while. You still have a lot of questions.
2. Armed with that information, you decided to hop into your car and do some hands-on research. First stop, an Apple retail store.
3. There, you sat with one of their “Stepford” employees. Like everyone who works there, she was incredibly knowledgeable and spoke in a manner that simplified the complicated. Her name was Kati. She introduced herself and called you by name. She asked questions about your needs and what was important to you.
After a careful conversation that included a number of issues you never would have thought to consider, the process pinpointed an excellent solution. It was just the right combination of size and storage amount, weight and speed. Kati made the further suggestion that you protect your potential purchase with Apple Care so that you could get the help you needed in the event of any damage.
She looked up a price, printed it out (making sure that the details and specs were circled) and asked if you were ready to make a purchase. You said, “Not right now. I want to think about it.” Then you thanked her for her time and left.
4. Returning home, you immediately went back online (using your old computer) and searched for a cheaper price on the computer that Kati suggested. Amazon. eBay. Craigslist. You sifted through dozens of Web pages and two hours slipped away without any satisfaction. Well, maybe it doesn’t need to be an Apple, you thought. So, back to the internet to see what Best Buy had in store for you. Finding something kinda, sorta like that other computer …
5. You jump in your car and head down to their retail store to check it out for yourself. There, you find models that don’t do everything the Mac did, but the price is significantly better. Despite the fact that you are in clear sight (you’re not invisible that day), it takes a while for Tommy Blueshirt to meet your eyes long enough to answer the “Could you help me?” request. Unfortunately, he knew less than you and after a few “Hold on. Let me ask my manager” delays, you give up and go back to reviewing the floor models and reading the specs.
In the 90 minutes spent there, you learned that you can save money but at a price: something has to give and you’ll need to do without one or more key features that you wanted. Still, the price difference is significant enough that you decide to buy a cheaper, slower computer and live with the decision.
There! You are now the proud owner of a computer that does some of what you need, but not all, at a price that is the absolute best around.
So, what’s wrong with this picture? On the surface, nothing. You have every right to hunt around and be a bargain shopper. That is certainly not a sin. The problem isn’t the result of your search, it’s the process you followed. As a consumer, you failed to reward the value of a superior sales approach and solution, and instead sought out a cheaper option, not a better one. With that kind of thinking and behavior, how can you possibly convince anyone else to buy your solution?
Why is Apple the most valuable company on the planet? Is it because they sell more than anyone else? Absolutely not. Their market share of computers is still in the single digits. Sure, they make it up with other product lines in which they DO dominate, but each of those areas are the result of the company following a brilliant but simple strategy: solve problems and earn orders. Their loyalty rate is ridiculous and they thrive in a market that is riddled with lower priced options.
Your buying habits say a lot about you as a sales rep. No one is asking you to pay sticker price for a car or never haggle for a better number at a retailer, but the psyche that searches for cheaper, cheaper, always cheaper is a mindset that is hard to change and harder still to parlay into a successful and profitable sales career.
If you see computers/print as a commodity, then you will forever be on the hunt for the best price and forever be subjected to that same measuring stick as a print sales rep. By lowering your price or by starting with the best price in the first place, you are essentially agreeing with the customer that you have no value and they are wise to beat you up and look around.
The other option is to learn more about what they are trying to accomplish and come up by asking open-ended questions. Study the company and their industry so that you have some background information. Learn the story behind the printed piece and find a way to reduce the usage cost. Compete on the basis of your ingenuity and design, not price.
Oh, and the next time a salesperson takes the time to learn about your needs and come up with a solution that you agree is best, buy from them. You might pay a bit more, but rewarding such behavior is good business and teaches a lesson that you can replicate as a salesperson.