Differentiating the price buyer from the value buyer was a conversation I had last week with one of our VIP/Premium Print4Pay Hotel members.
I'll start with why I found this to be an important topic. If you follow or are connecting with many of the sales soothsayers on Linkedin most of them are missing the point when it comes to selling. Note I did not mention sales but "selling" which is the act of closing the deal.
Most will say create value, build a relationship, and don't drop your price. All I can say is WOW, how long have they been out of main stream sales or are they just throwing BS. There are more "price" buyers now than there ever was.
I'm still in SMB sales after thirty eight years and have found that we (sales people) need to differentiate the price buyer from the value buyer in a short amount of time.
The sooner that you can make that call will enable you to increase your chances to close both the price buyer and the value buyer. There's no need to walk away from the price buyers, identifying the price buyers early allows you to save time in the selling process. With all off the spiffs and bonuses that are available in our industry, the price buyer plays an important role in meeting quotas and achieving bonus levels.
I don't work for free, at times it takes just as much effort to sell one copier as it does to sell five. However, I also believe it's better to make five dollars than no dollars at all.
If you're in a major market you know how competitive it is out in the field. Identifying when you can an can't make GP can increase your orders!
How To Make the Call
Over the years, I've learned to use my eyes, ears and a few questions that help me identify what kind of buyer I'm meeting with.
1. If you're meeting with a "C" level exec, before you go in for the appointment take a short cruise around the parking lot. If the parking spaces are marked for execs check out the types of vehicles in those spots. Porsche, Mercedes, Range Rover, Maserati, Audi all indicate that someone is a value buyer. When at the reception desk pose this question, "that's a beautiful Maserati in the lot, who does that belong to?" It may not be the "C" level exec you're going to meet with, but if it is, you've used your "eyes" to help put a check in for the "value" buyer.
2. In most cases I'll ask for a tour when I'm in a larger office when there are multiple copiers. Yup, we're there to identify the make and model number of each copier, and to check the meters. Look a little closer to the paper that they use. Are they using a brand name of paper like Hammermill, or are they using Staples or Office Max paper. Hammermill or brand name paper puts another check in the "value" buyer.
3. While you're on the tour you'll most likely see laser printers, in addition to the printers take some time to see what type of toner cartridges they're using. If you're seeing all remanufacturer cartridges then you'll be putting a check in the "price" buyer.
4. Listen to your client, they will give you clues. One of the clues of a price buyer is that they'll want to rush you through the presentation process. If that's they case a check goes in for the "price" buyer. I've also noted that arrogance and rudeness is also associated with the "price" buyer.
5. Ask these questions in this order.
a. What brand of copiers did you have before these Ricoh copiers? If they answer Ricoh, that will tell you that they "value" the brand. If they answer with any other brand that will tell you there is no brand loyalty (most likely a price buyer)
b. Who is your current service provider and then who was your previous service provider? If there current service provider (dealer or direct) is the same as their previous service provider. That will tell you that they have brand loyalty along with dealer or direct loyalty. They are a "value" buyer, however there is a strong loyalty to the brand and the service provider. You may want to ask, "I see that you've had the same brand and service provider for many years. Is there something wrong with the current copiers or service provider"?
If their current service provider is not the same as their previous service provider. Then, I'm putting a check in for the "price" buyer.
You'll need to figure it out on the fly. Don't waste much time on the "price" buyers, give them your best price the first time. Assume the order and move forward with closing. Let them stop you, if they don't stop you keep writing!
You can't sell everyone, but you may pick off a few "price" buyers by not playing the price game. The quicker you can obtain the order will get you closer to the next "value" buyer.
For those "price" buyers that you do pick off, they will see the value of your support and service over time. That time allows you to turn that price buyer into a value buyer the next time around.