This is a topic of discussion with all of our our sales training clients in Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Calgary and Toronto. How do we prevent buyers from shopping our proposal or quote? If you’ve been a Professional Salesperson for a few years, it’s happened to you. After investing time, energy and expertise into preparing your proposal, your client hesitates for a few days before signing off. You get the sinking feeling that your hard work and creativity is being shopped with the competition for a lower price. How do we prevent that from happening?
As Professional Salespeople, we strive to give our clients the best in everything we do. It’s part of the commitment we make in getting and keeping their business. This often requires specialized work requiring time, creativity and expertise in devising the best solution to meet the buyer’s needs and solve their problems. It can be unnerving if not downright upsetting to think that a competitor could just copy our hard work, undercut our price and win the sale.
Many Salespeople feel that there’s not much you can do to stop this and resign themselves to accept that it’s part of the job. Over the years I’ve learned that there are safeguards that can be taken to ensure most of the “shopping around” can be prevented.
Use the copyright © symbol
We’ve all noticed this symbol before. Major companies use it when protecting the originality of their product, content and work. However, it costs nothing for anyone to use this simple technique.
© (Year) (Your name)
By placing this on each page of your proposal or quote, you are sending a strong message – I own the creation of it and I’m sharing it only with you. You don’t have the right to distribute it to someone else without my consent. You don’t have to apply for copyright and by simply posting this, buyers are being professionally educated about your feelings toward your work. You could even go so far as writing this at the bottom of your proposal.
@ 2018 PROSALESGUY TRAINING – The content of this proposal is the property of the owner and cannot be shared with any person or company other than the recipient.
Is this arrogant or self-absorbed? Arrogant – not all at all. Self-absorbed – most definitely. You are trying to protect the originality of your work.
Be assured that your buyer will notice this and think twice about shopping it with a competitor. If they wish to have a conversation on why you’ve used a copyright, smile and then take the opportunity to tell them that you’re protecting your expertise. No reasonable client will have an issue with that.
Have a conversation with the buyer about shopping your proposal
All consultative Salespeople know how important asking questions is in needs analysis investigation. One of the best questions is to ask is if the buyer might be entertaining more than one proposal or quote. If they respond with yes then make them aware of your feelings. You might explain as follows:
“I totally understand. I want to make sure that we’re on the same page. I plan to invest whatever amount of time, research and expertise is required in preparing my proposal/quote for you. I’d like to think that it will stay between you and me allowing other suppliers to use their own resources to prepare theirs. Does that sound fair to you?”
Here’s my point. The time to talk about this is before anything happens. Avoiding the subject from the start to deal with it later will have everyone’s emotions involved. Great Salespeople have direct, meaningful conversations to prevent situations from occurring.
Take precautions in your proposal/quote
Many of our clients have learned that giving away specific product information in their proposal invites curious buyers to do an online search to source out product when applicable. While you’ve done considerable work in creating the solution for your buyer, there’s little to no expertise involved in sourcing out product online. Don’t set yourself up for trouble by offering product identification numbers or other revealing information.
The product you offer your customer is made up of many components:
- Your ability to do a proper needs analysis with the buyer to determine their specific needs
- You and your company’s access to research information to create the best solution
- Your expertise coupled with the knowledge and experience of industry experts in your company
- Your hard work and effort in preparing a proposal/quote that will be best received by the buyer
By not personally taking these things for granted, you are better able to ensure that your client doesn’t do the same. In my experience, I’ve never had a reasonable client have any issue with this approach. If he or she does, you must ask yourself if you’re working with a buyer that meets your ideal customer profile.
Let’s be fair
All of this is based on the assumption that you’re providing value to your buyer with your time and expertise in finding the best solution to a current challenge they are experiencing. If you’re doing little more than sourcing out a product and reselling it, then price will be the determining factor in the purchasing decision. You should be prepared to be shopped by a buyer. Out of line pricing can lose the sale and the customer for life.
What do you think? Please let us know in the comments area below. We respond to everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts.
Are you a salesperson who believes in continuous self-improvement? Check out our book SHUT UP! Stop Talking and Start Making Money available on Kindle and paperback on Amazon or our online sales training program The Sales Skills Incubator. Take the free trial on Chapter 1 – The Stigma of Sales.
Dave Warawa – PROSALESGUY