My price was 50% more than my rival’s
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My price was 50% more than my rival’s

Editor’s note: Greatest Sales are true accounts of how successful salespeople made a challenging sale despite price objections, buyer inertia, cutthroat competition and other obstacles. Mike Coyne of Superior Printing Co. in Pittsburgh, PA, tells how he addressed the price objection.

I’d quoted my customer a price 50% higher than that of a new competitor. Why, my customer demanded to know, shouldn’t the competitor get the business?

I knew this competitor was quoting below cost and would be raising his prices once he got the account. But I also knew it would be a mistake to raise this argument now. My customer’s mind was focused on cost. What I had to do was shift his focus to value.

My customer produces cookies for the corporate gift market with an average price of $20 a pound. We provide high-quality printing for his premium product. On my way over to his plant, I stopped at a supermarket and picked up a pound of cookies for $1.49. Those cookies were still in my briefcase when we began our meeting.

Years of advantages
I reminded him of all of the advantages he’d enjoyed working with us over the years. And there were plenty of them to talk about. We discussed the excellent service and high level of attention we gave him. I’d always returned his phone calls within minutes, making certain I was paged if I happened to be in a meeting when he called.

I talked about the effort we put out to make sure his product looked its very best in the catalogues we printed.

I reminded him of how scrupulously fair we were with any pricing changes for alterations he requested during the printing process.

He acknowledged that we’d treated him well, but he still wound up saying, “Your competitor’s price is a lot lower. How can they do it?”

Reaching for the cookies
That’s when I reached for the $1.49 cookies.

Normally, I don’t like to do something like this because it smacks of a gimmick. But in this situation, it was entirely appropriate. It was the most effective way I could think of demonstrate the relationship between price and value.

What I had to do was get the customer to focus on the value we brought to him by pointing out the value he brought to his customers.

I noted that, for the average supermarket customer, the ingredients, the freshness, and the packaging of those cookies was okay. But they’d hardly be appropriate for a corporate gift.

Was he prepared to risk diminishing the apparent value of his product by cutting the costs of printing his promotional materials and packaging?

“You’re right,” he said as he signed the contract and slid it across the desk.

This experience was just another reminder that customers sometimes get used to the great quality and service we provide, and they start seeing us as a commodity. One of our jobs as salespeople is to continually remind them that one bag of cookies is not the same as another.

photo credit: compujeramey

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