These days, rising costs are keeping everyone up at night. Increasingly, the decision to work with one vendor over another comes down to a single factor: price. And unless you’re willing to significantly cut your margins, there will always be someone who’s cheaper.
The problem with boiling down a purchase decision to price is the underlying assumption that all other things are equal. When purchasing is responsible for vendor decisions, they are focused on the bottom line. That’s their job. They aren’t necessarily concerned with why your product or service is different.
So, if you don’t want to compete on price alone, you need to sell beyond purchasing, by targeting two or three additional influencers in the company who will recognize your value and advocate on your behalf. The more allies you have, the better chance you have to close the sale. Here are four steps to help your sales organization influence more stakeholders:
1. Identify who else has influence
Procurement will always be part of the selection committee – that’s a given. But there are usually other individuals who have a say. You just have to figure out who they are. If you sell raw materials, it could be engineers or materials specialists. If you sell food ingredients, it’s probably R&D, a culinary consultant and marketing. For IT support, it could be the IT manager or operations manager. Do your research.
2. Determine the pain of each different audience and craft value messaging that addresses their needs
Let’s say you’re an ingredient company and you’re targeting food manufacturers. Purchasing, R&D, culinary and marketing will each have very different pain points. Purchasing wants to manage costs. R&D is concerned with how the ingredient will perform on the production line and how it will behave in the finished product on the shelf. The culinary folks are focused on getting the flavor right. And the marketing department is interested in making label claims and offering products that are on-trend. One general message won’t speak to any of these challenges. Target your messaging and tell each audience how your offering addresses their individual pains.
3. Build relationships with these influencers and showcase your competitive difference
Don’t just target these stakeholders with emails and brochures – get in front of them and demonstrate your knowledge. But don’t make it about you. Tell them how your competitive difference can help them do their jobs better. This is what separates vendors from partners. Vendors sell a commodity, and they’re paid accordingly. Partners, on the other hand, understand the issues of the people to whom they are selling, and translate that knowledge into value. It often only takes one key influencer to champion your offering to purchasing. Find an influencer who is receptive to a partnership and you’re on your way.
4. Support purchasing by quantifying how your value will benefit their bottom line
The objective here isn’t to go around purchasing if they are your main contact already. Instead, support your purchasing contact by reiterating how your offering meets the needs of others in the organization and quantify your value wherever possible. Demonstrate how your higher price can actually save them money in the long run, in terms of time, money or labor costs, so they’ll see why you’re worth the price you’re asking. Or, point out the risks that come with choosing the lowest-price vendor. Putting a dollar value on the liabilities can be very compelling.
How do you move your sales pitches or help your sales organization get beyond purchasing? Share your tips below!