Mobile Apps changing the way buyers buy, should it change the way we sell?

Warning Rant Ahead!!!

I read in the Wall Street Journal today about how buyers are using Mobile Applications to compare prices even while they are in a store. In the article a young man found a better price at Amazon and bought right on the spot. That is he purchased from Amazon while in a Best Buy store!

As I read about these kinds of shifts where buyers go to the trouble of “shopping” and then find the cheapest price I get a little frustrated. I realize some of that frustration may be me and a sign of the times but let’s look a little deeper.

I keep hearing how the consumer is upset at poor service they get from retailers. These complaints range from not being able to find a clerk to when they find a clerk getting them engaged in helping the buyer shop.

Then there is the whole idea of shopping. That is looking at a variety of products that may fill a need. Then buyers getting sales professionals to help them understand the nuances about the product. So they have gained value from the retailer and the sales person without spending a dime.

Finally after the sales professional and the retailer have invested their time in educating the buyer the buyer whips out a phone finds the cheapest price and leaves. Is it any wonder retailers are not delivering the service that buyers seek? They are not willing to pay for it. I often wonder if in our pursuit of the lowest price we are settling also for the lowest experience.

This dynamic is also played out in the B2B world with online auctions for services. I have seen instances where buyers will set up an online auction to get the lowest price. Typically this results in the lowest value.

I don’t know that I know the answer. I suspect it lies in the initial conversation, or as my coach says, “in setting the table,” with our potential buyers. We have to let them know we are not the lowest price and that we are interested in helping them solve their problems. But if their intention is to shop for the lowest price they perhaps need to look elsewhere.

Am I alone in this point of view?

3 Comments:

  1. Hi John,

    While I understand your frustration with this, I do not believe that this is anything new. Price shopping (and price shoppers) have been around since the beginning of time. New technology may have made it easier, but the practice itself is hardly new.

    What should a salesperson do about it? In my mind, nothing. I have people call me all the time to inquire about rates for executive coaching or a communications workshop. When they start by asking about price I know they are price shoppers and I never expect to hear from them again. When I spend a lot of time and effort explaining what coaching is, or how DISC can help them, and then they buy somewhere else, I really don’t worry.

    Why?

    Because I care about my clients and their results. A price shopper only cares about price and not results. Therefore this person is hardly my ideal client. So I let them go.

    Is it frustrating?

    Only if I let it frustrate me. But since I only want to work with people who care about results, I don’t let those who are price shopping concern me.

    Just my .02 and worth most of that.

    Be well my friend…

    Dave

  2. John-

    Great post! I’ve never really thought about this issue until you brought it up. I have a couple of thoughts:

    First, I think this speaks to the value that the salesperson is bringing to the table. My thought process here is that it’s the salesperson’s job to sell the product at a higher price than the competitor by creating additional value for the consumer. Having said that, this is very challenging when the competitive product is the SAME product, at a lower price.

    My second thought is that this really speaks to the relationship between the manufacturer of the product, and the distributor. If I am the distributor of a product, say Best Buy, and the manufacturer puts me in a position where my competitions gets a lower price than I do, then I’m really going to question why I have that relationship with them in the first place. I think your point above speaks more to the manufacturer/distributor relationship than anything else.

  3. Thanks Tom,

    As a former Distribution Rep, I recognize the dilemma posed by your second point. I can remember the very real negotiations where large retailers demanded lower prices and because of the “need” to meet quarterly targets management would submit. Then as sales reps we would be on damage clean up for some time.

    It is important to remember the long term consequences of our actions. A big order this quarter could lead to lower orders from a broader base next quarter if you are giving one of your customers an unfair advantage against your other customers.

    Happy Holidays

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