Our sales training colleagues in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto occasionally deal with a buyer called the Professional Shopper. This is an individual who contacts many suppliers always trying to get the lowest price. You’ve probably dealt with them before. They’re like trying to catch a fish with your hands. Here’s our best advice in handling the Professional Shopper to ensure you can either close the business or move on to a more promising opportunity.
The Profile of the Professional Shopper
- Appears to have genuine interest upfront
- Asks for a quote or proposal on your product or services
- Shows a sense of urgency in wanting to purchase
- Requests that you get back to them quickly or within a tight deadline
- May require research and additional work to meet their requests
- Sometimes changes direction with you once you give them your quote or proposal
- Might stall for time to make a final decision as they investigate other suppliers
- Tells you that they can buy the same product somewhere else for much less than you
Keep in mind that the ideal customer you want to sell to may look very much the same in the first 5 characteristics listed. The difference with the Professional Shopper is that they tend to change their direction with you and keep you hanging. Here are some of the things they’re likely to do:
- Ask questions on the product or service you’ve done work on and then suddenly switch their emphasis to something much different. This leaves you wondering what happened with their original request and why they changed direction. They may ask you to do additional work based on their new direction.
- Encourage you to get back to them as quickly as possible and then suddenly go dark after telling you they need time to think about it. Hurry up and wait can be a common trait.
- Request detailed information in your quote or proposal such as full brand name, manufacturer, model numbers, etc. as they search online or elsewhere for a better price.
What We’re Prone to Doing
Those of us with high service levels want to meet customer expectations and are likely to do what’s required. After all, we want to entice the client into making the purchase. However, once you’ve dealt with a few Professional Shoppers you become better at recognizing them. Smart Salespeople proceed more cautiously before investing extra hours of time and effort.
How To Deal With Professional Shoppers
Try to remain positive and don’t get cynical. Past experiences provide great insight, however, don’t be quick to judge. Qualify them by asking some great questions. As we detail in our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money and our online course, The Sales Skills Incubator, asking great questions is always the best way to find out more information about a client’s needs and motivation. It allows you to deal with the situation much more clearly without pre-judging or becoming emotional.
Great Questions To Ask A Professional Shopper
If the buyer suddenly changes direction with you to a different product or service…
“I’m confused, help me understand this better. You wanted a quote/proposal on (product/service) and now you’re interested in (product/service). What am I missing here?”
If the client stalls for time after giving you the impression that they had a quick turnaround time…
“If I may ask, what’s holding you back from making a decision? Have I missed something? What can I do to make this decision easier?”
If they say that they can buy the same product for less online or need the lowest price right up front…
“I’m happy to do the work in preparing a quote/proposal for you, however, we may not have the lowest price or the highest. We believe in selling our products for a fair price – fair to you and fair to us. That way, we can make a profit and be around to provide you service and do business with you in the future. Does that make sense?”
My advice would always be to avoid giving too much detail on product brand names, manufacturers and model numbers. This just sets up you for a Professional Shopper to do an online search to find a lower price elsewhere.
Be Direct, Polite and Courteous
Smart Salespeople have learned to deal with Professional Shoppers by being direct, tactful and diplomatic. If you ask these types of questions, the customer is required to give you a response to help you better deal with them. That sure is better than saying something emotionally charged that is likely to not go over well. That also tells you a lot about their sincerity in being fair with you. Don’t let previous bad experiences influence a new customer relationship.
You want their business and are prepared to work for it. You also want ensure that you are dealing with a client that is being reasonable, sincere and authentic. In the end, you control who you decide to sell to. Discussing these types of situations with your Sales Manager will probably give you insight into how they’ve dealt with Professional Shoppers before.
A Great Story on Dealing with Professional Shoppers and Price Objections
One of our sales training clients in Toronto relayed a great story recently. He was looking for a plumber and decided to call the one that had the most positive Google Searches. Not only was the number of 5 Star reviews very high on one particular plumber, but the quality of the comments were also very positive.
He called the plumber and said he wanted a quote on some work. This was what he heard in response.
“If you want a quote, we’re probably not the right company for you. We believe in giving our customers great service for a reasonable price and getting the job done to your satisfaction. If you want us to fix your situation, we’re happy to do that.”
He stopped and said nothing more. Our client was somewhat taken back and said, “Well, I guess we’ll book you then.”
Why Did the Plumber Respond This Way?
Very simple. He was tired of dealing with customers who asked for quotes who then beat him up on price by using a low-ball quote from a competitor prepared to do it for less. He had confidence in his work and online reviews to have the courage to be direct.
You may feel that you don’t have the liberty to be that direct and may risk losing the chance of getting the business. High demand for your product or service gives you certain freedoms to attempt.
Ask yourself this question…
Can you learn something from the sales technique of this plumber? I think so.
If learning new sales techniques is important to you, check out our resources below. Soon we’ll be releasing our new online sales training course – Negotiating a 2 Party Payoff. If you’re interested in investigating Group or Individual Sales Training on-site in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary or Toronto, please give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to talk with you.
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY