It’s Easy to Avoid Conflict About Pricing—Just Lower Your Price
There’s no avoiding the fact that safe and compliant promo products come at a price. Rarely is a product that has been manufactured and shipped in a socially responsible and safe manner without a competitor in the marketplace at a lower price. In an industry that has long been driven by price, doing the right thing for your customer will at some point lead to conflict with them—whether you are a supplier, a distributor or an end-user.
Some of the pricing conversations I have heard of late are focused on product testing, and whether or not the supplier should bear all of the costs, or share it with distributors. There are clients who now recognize the high expectations of accountability aren’t free and who expect that full supply chain transparency will show up as part of the unit cost, even itemized on the invoice. As product safety awareness increases in our industry, those clients are still unfortunately too few and far between.
Trusted Advisors Are Brave Enough to Have the Difficult Conversations
If you are totally focused on transactional selling, then it’s really easy to avoid conflict. Simply lower your price. But that avoidance of conflict comes with its own price. While you might gain the sale in this one instance, as a result, you lose any hope you have of presenting yourself as a value-added representative of your product. Trusted advisors engage in the difficult conversations, and that’s especially important when the subject turns to product safety. For more than just the transactional costs, there are many more risks to consider by choosing a cheaper, unsafe product alternative. The potential losses generated by recalls, lawsuits, governmental penalties, brand damage, PR failure and loss of goodwill will linger much longer than the memory of a cheap price.
In an article from his sales blog, S. Anthony Iannorino makes a point I frequently refer to: Price is an expression of value. And that’s so very true. When you reduce your price and allow your offer to be commoditized, you cannot make claim to any differentiation from others in the market. The lowest price is the absence of value, and the low price leader in your space is not competing on value, just price.
Part of our mission at QCA is to not only activate the conversation about the importance of product safety and compliance, but also about the differentiating factor it is in the promotional products industry. As more end-users ask tougher questions about accountability, those suppliers that can unhesitatingly document their process separate themselves from the competition. For those selling value, not just price, the conflict should be viewed as an opportunity to demonstrate interest in doing what’s best for the customer in the long run even if it means engaging in a difficult conversation.
I would be remiss if I didn’t take the opportunity here to congratulate my colleague at QCA, Denise (Dee) Fenton, on being named to the board of the International Consumer Product Health and Safety Organization (ICPHSO). Dee has more than 30 years experience in manufacturing and import. This honor is reflective of all the hard work she has done in the promotional products industry, and presents her an opportunity to effect change both in the safety of consumer products in general, and on a global scale. This is indeed a big honor, and I am proud to have the opportunity to work with Dee every day.