Feeling Price Pressure from Online Discounters? Here's What You Can Do
What do you do when a prospect tells you they can buy the promotional products you're recommending cheaper on the Internet? This is a big challenge for promo product sales professionals and one I've blogged about in the past and get asked about frequently.
This week, I'm sharing some of the creative and thoughtful responses I continue to get from your promo industry peers on "How to Compete with Online Discounters." Here's where you can find my original post that inspired the great comments below. You'll find a wealth of wisdom in these comments:
- "If it's an existing client I would ask why we're they looking on the Internet. If it's a new one, my response is: many of my clients used to buy online from (insert vendor name). The reason why they prefer working with me is because they got orders messed up at one point or another, items were not the quality they expected by the pictures, and they appreciate the time and cost savings of dealing with just one person that understands their audience, brand guidelines and product knowledge. Typically some sort of disappointment with an online vendor will come up and they sort of talk themselves out of it."
—Gloria Lafont, Action-Promo
- "First I ask for the link and if I can beat the price and still make some money, that's great. More importantly, I want to establish that contact and train these internet shoppers that I'm easier because it's my JOB to save them time and energy and hopefully money. I explain that I am directly affected as I'm 100 percent commission, I can't afford to cut corners whereas the faceless internet company can. I'm the contact for resolution as well. I also share samples and periodic, specific ideas through email and mail. People like "gifts." Do internet companies bother with this? In the end, there will always be those who want the cheapest price and I let these people go. I'm more interested in working with people who want a partnership and who believe in the power of promotions. The internet companies are an inevitable part of our industry but customer service and face to face, community contact still matter to many people."
—Jerri, Spartan Promotional Group
- "I LOVE it when folks tell me about online discounters. I then assure them they can and most likely will find it cheaper. However, I then tell them two true stories of online mishaps. My experience is that "stories sell." Then I finish the conversation about how important it is to work with trusted, vetted vendors and while "most" of the online guys will "probably" do a good job, it really is in their best interest to work with a professional. I also like to ask them how much money they made for their company while they were online shopping and doing MY job."
—Liz Anderson, Proforma/Peak Marketing
- "I think being able to be a sounding board and possibly adding ideas gives the customer the right item for their purposes. They may start out in one direction and with professional feedback may adjust to something they are even happier with."
—Larry Trainor, Trainor Printing and Promotions
- This particular comment by a distributor who only left her first name sums up very well what we all must do sometimes: "When all else fails, move on and know that not every fit is a good one. It's a personal decision, what is a wall and what is challenge to work on. If it's a wall, turn right or left and never look back."
Bottom Line: Yes, online promo discounters are a problem, but when you build relationships with your clients that are based on the giving the best marketing advice, not the lowest price, you become the added value that they can't get from an Internet site. Only YOU bring a complete understanding of their business, brand and end users. You are the differentiator!