The fifth myth of print sales: customers only choose on price

Posted by Matthew Parker

When the print salesperson is white and sweating, then you have done your job.

It’s a familiar situation to everyone. The buyer has been ruthlessly in action. They have mentioned

  • budget limitations
  • competitor prices
  • the promise of further work
  • the risk of them changing supplier

Slowly but surely, the print sales person has been forced to give way. If they want the work they will have to compete on price. After all, all buyers choose on price. That’s the only factor that buyers consider.

But is that really true? Let’s look at a different point of view.

Sometimes, the print salesperson forces the customer to choose on price

Sometimes customrs feel that they have no option but to choose on a print supplier on price

Sometimes customers feel that they have no option but to choose on a print supplier on price

In my last article I focused on how some print sales people led on price. Not all salespeople are making the conversation all about price. But many are still encouraging the buyer to choose on price.

Some print salespeople understand that a sales messages can make a customer choose on price. They have addressed this.  These sale people are well-placed to create effective partnerships with their prospects and customers. They are more in control of their sales pipeline. They have a good chance of achieving what they set out to do.

Print sales people who have the wrong type of sales message find it much harder to achieve what they need. They are busy slashing their prices. They are involved purely in commodity selling. It’s hard to control a sales pipeline when it’s based on the lottery of lowest price.

However, as a buyer, lowest price is often what interests me most

It’s important to understand that this is not the way I would like it to be. Of course price is important to me. But I would like to make my buying decisions based on more than this.

The trouble is, sometimes I find this very difficult to do. It’s down to the print sales pitches that I receive. Sometimes I have no option but to choose on price. Here’s why.

Many print sales pitches are exactly the same

Over my years as a print buyer, I have received more than 1400 print sales pitches. 98% of them have contained exactly the same main elements.

Here are the four main elements are defined in most print sales pitches:

  • Good quality
  • Great service
  • Competitive prices
  • Environmentally friendly

I expect all these things from a print company anyway. But I am battered day in, day out by the same message from nearly every printer. Most print companies are portrayed to me as being exactly the same.

So how does the customer react to this?

If everything else appears to be the same, to the customer has only one choice. They have to choose the one factor that differentiates the print companies from each other.

The customer has no option but to choose on price

The customer is forced to do this because there are no other differentiators. Service and quality and environmental credentials are rarely enough to make a print company stand out from the competition. The customer will want to be reassured on these issues. However, is not the first thing that should be brought up in a sales pitch.

A customer needs to understand why your company is truly different. They need to understand the value that you can bring to their business. If you can do that, you move the conversation away from being purely on price.

Here’s why I paid more for a print job

I was buying a marketing brochure. It was a simple job. One that it would be easy just to choose the lowest price for. However, when it came to delivery there was a challenge. I needed to get the brochure to an exhibition without fail.

One print company to whom I talked about the brochure convinced me that they were different. They guarantee to me on time delivery or my money back. They guaranteed to use a dedicated driver. (A courier would have probably given up at the exhibition dates.) They also made sure there would be time to prove the job to the marketing team.

I ended up paying this company 12.5% more than the lowest price. It would have been easy to get a cheaper deal. But this company understood to my needs and focused on my pain. They also provided a set of unique guarantees. For this job, I considered the extra cost more than worthwhile.

However, some print companies will be doubtful about this example.

That’s pretty rare behaviour for a customer

It is true that there are customers out there who are only interested in price. However, it is possible to change the ways of many who do buy on price. It requires a rather different pitch from a forward thinking salesperson. They will need their sales pitch to stand out.

One way in which they can do this is to focus on the TPD principle. They need to focus on their target audience, the target audience’s pain and their company difference. These are factors that you can easily build into your sales message.

I am not saying that these buyers won’t still want to talk about price. However, they will be having a conversation about trying to justify using your company rather than a competitor.

Here are three action points to get you going

  1. Review your sales message for mentions of price, service, quality and environment.
  2. Work out what makes your company and offering truly different.
  3. Make sure that this is crystal clear to your staff, customers and prospects

The right sales message creates a very different dialogue

You may soon find that many of your customers are no longer just talking to you about budgets and competitor prices. You may find that they are no longer focused purely on beating you up on price. You may find that they are sitting up and listening to why they should be using using your company and is not a competitor.
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