How can I stop my customers from price shopping?

What is a technique that you can use to deal with price shopping? The majority of my customers are only looking for the cheapest price and don’t seem to put much value on customer service or loyalty.

That’s an email I received from a distributor recently, and I know it’s a hot topic for many companies in the promotional products industry.

The first thing is to separate the issues: are you struggling to win new customers from the internet, or do you have repeat customers who’re asking you to price-match a competitor they’ve found online?

If it’s the former, our article on ‘Why isn’t your promotional products website working?‘ has some suggestions to help you narrow your focus, and concentrate your efforts where you can get the best return.

This article is concerned with the latter; how do you handle a customer sending you a product they’ve found on a competitor’s website, and asking you to source the item at the same price?

The good news is your client likes you enough to ask you first! They’ve not just taken their business elsewhere without even checking in with you, and that’s a really promising start.

Your chance for winning this order is going to be in a value-added service.

Before you scramble to call in your EQP favors, talk to your client about what their end goals are for their campaign. Your chance to add value is to think creatively on their behalf about what sort of product will deliver the best ROI.

A pen might be the best fit, but then again a stress toy, key chain or screen cleaner might deliver more impressions. You don’t know until you ask what they ultimately hope to gain from the promotion.

Then send them over some suggestions in a nicely laid out presentation – Virtual Sample enabled with their logo so they can get excited about it – with a compelling argument for considering your solution (i.e. 8/10 students carry a bottle opener on their person at all times, so if you provide a branded bottle opener, you’ve got many more opportunities to get eyes on your logo. I made that up, but you get the idea!).

You’ve just proven that, unlike your competitor, you’re prepared to:

  • Provide a marketing consultancy service
  • Think carefully about your customer’s needs
  • Offer imaginative suggestions which will deliver the best ROI

It would be naive to suggest that the customer is always going to opt for your ideas, and you may lose this order to the price-cutter; but consider how much more likely they are to come back to you in the future, when they’re looking for someone to provide ideas rather than just a price.

But what’s to stop my customer from taking my ideas, and buying the items cheaper from my competitor?

It does happen – and it’s galling and demoralizing. However, not every customer will abuse your professionalism in this way, and those that do, you can do without. 70% of Americans say that they’re willing to spend more with companies they believe provide excellent customer service, so ditch the 30% and invest your time with people who respect the value you’re offering.

Equally, if you can be profitable while still shaving a few cents off the price, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be competitively priced. Work with a smaller number of suppliers, and they’ll reward your loyalty with better pricing.

Pass on those savings to your customers, and when special offers come around (you’re probably inundated with emails from suppliers every day!), share appropriate ideas with your customers.

As a small business owner, with a smaller number of customers, it’s easier for you to be highly responsive to your customers, and anticipate their needs.

If you’ve sold pens and backpacks to a school, and you see an offer for discounted pencil cases, drop your contact a quick line to say that you’ve been able to secure an incredible deal on these items, and you thought he/she might be interested. Make it personal and personable rather than ‘sales-y’, and they’ll see it as thoughtful rather than aggressive.

If you can share examples of where you’ve had these experiences, we’d love to hear them. How did you handle it? Do you have any advice you can share?

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