Lower!
Cheaper!
Prices slashed!

Have you seen how many supermarkets always sell on price?  It seems that they think they can only get customers by being cheaper than the competition.

The trouble is that now most people choose their supermarket only on these messages.  And that’s bad news for the supermarkets.

A price based sales message

price-is-right-2But that’s the way many printers sell.  There is a lot of discussion about buyers buying on price.  But often that is exactly what printers are encouraging them to do.

Printers who sell on price may win customers, but these customers are not loyal.  They will move at the drop of a hat.  So the printer has no control over their client turnover.  And they never get to the goals they set because they are too busy chasing new customers.

Printers who do not sell on price are more likely to end up with customers that are partners.  They have a better control over their sales pipeline.  So they can spend less time selling and more time achieving what they want to achieve.  This is because they set the right tone for customer conversations.

The first 30 seconds usually set the tone for a conversation.  And in most conversations that I have with printers we start straight off by talking about price.

Here are three ways in which many sales people encourage me to think about price.  And the first of these is something that can come up in the first two sentences of a conversation.

1)  Asking for a quote

Asking for a quote is the most common way to start making a print buyer think about price.  But it also makes a printer sound desperate.  The printer is asking the print buyer to take action before they may be ready.  It is much more powerful to wait for the print buyer to ask if they can have some quotes.  Then you know that they want to engage with you.

Asking for a quote immediately also invites the print buyer to compare prices with their current suppliers.  And some print salespeople actually make this mistake much more obviously.

2)  Asking to compare versus other supplier

Some print sales people actually suggest that print buyers compare their prices against those of their current supplier.  They have immediately started a price war.   And they have invited print buyers to view their services as nothing more than a commodity.

This also means that print buyers will be just as likely to carry out this exercise again.  They will probably do this as soon as the next print supplier approaches them.

Printers need to encourage print buyers to engage with them because they offer something different.  A printer needs a point of difference.  They need a unique selling point.  The problem is that many printers believe that price makes their unique selling point.

3)  Using price as a USP

Print salespeople must not make their sale pitch using price as the thing that makes them different.  This tells the buyer that there is no reason to use them unless they are looking for a cheap price.  And, as in price comparisons, the buyer will have no loyalty to the printer.

A printer needs a USP that shows the buyer some value.  It is likely to be a way in which the print buyer can reduce their costs.  Or a way in which they can use their print more effectively.  These are very different from price.

But don’t print buyers always buy on price?

Remember that many print buyers buy on price because they have been encouraged to do so.  It is the print salesperson’s job to encourage them to encourage them to buy in other ways.

Here are some other ways in which you can encourage print buyers to buy:

  • show them how you can help them reduce their costs
  • show them how they can buy print more efficiently
  • show them how they can specify more economically
  • show them how they can use print more effectively
  • show them how they can use print to increase their revenues

All these approaches give print buyers a reason to spend more.  It gives them an opportunity to move away from a purely price led conversation.  And you’d be surprised how many print buyers focus on other things apart from price.

Of course price matters

All printers will have to show that they price competitively.  But this is different to showing that they have the cheapest price.  It is not difficult to persuade a print buyer to choose a higher price.  But they need to have a reason to do so.

Let’s look at this in real life.

Here are some examples of how printers sold on higher prices

One of my clients works in the magazine sector.  They avoid leading on price because they offer clients more than just print.  They also offer apps and online publishing solutions.  They become more than just a provider of ink on paper.  They offer something very different, and more valuable, than their competitors.  So the conversation moves away from price.

Another printer helps their clients improve the return on investment for their marketing print.  This means that the conversation is about maximizing revenue.  And not about cheap print.

And finally, one large format printer works with office interior designers.  These designers are desperate to find innovative solutions to sell their clients.  So the printer is able to research and offer new substrates and processes.  The conversation is about new ideas.  Not lowest price.

In all of these cases the printer has taken time to create a sales offering which makes the different from the competition.  And which adds value to the client.  They never sell on price.

Here are three action points to stop you selling on price

  • Ban the sales team from asking for quotes.  (If the conversation grinds to a halt, it is more effective to ask “Where do we go from here?”)
  • Make sure you create a point of difference.  And make sure that it contains something of value for the target client.  If you are stuck on this one, ask your clients what they would like to see
  • Make sure that your sales pitch never compares you to the competition.  Make sure that you come across as a company that is different from others

Even supermarkets don’t really sell on price

Some of the advertising is very price led.  But when you are in the store they are very good at encouraging you to spend more money.  Most of their products have a basic option.  But the best sellers are often the premium version.  Supermarkets look after their profit margins.

And so should printers.

P.S.  If you’d like to learn more about moving away from selling on price you should sign up right now for the Profitable Print Relationships “Buyer’s Insights”.  You’ll receive regular tips about improving print sales from the buyer’s point of view and get your free copy of “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” (worth $29).

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