I’ve been expanding upon a post on questions you must ask yourself when one of your customers threatens to move their business to another supplier.

We are now up to question 7 (links to the previous questions are at the bottom of this post).

7. How will other people in the customer’s company respond if the decision is made to no longer buy from you?

The buyer tells you your price is too high and as a result your customer is about to become an “ex-customer.”

Just because the buyer doesn’t like your price or something else about what you provide them doesn’t necessarily mean the end is near.

When your buyer starts to make noise about changing suppliers, it’s time for you to jump in and call into action the “users.” These are the people who actually use your product or service.

Many times the users are the experts in the company and because of this they can wield a lot of power. If you can get these people to speak up, the noise they make can many times get the buyer to step away from their decision to not buy from you.

A key thing to always remember when you’re working with a buyer is the most difficult meetings they many times have are not with salespeople, but with others inside of their own company.

If a buyer has to tell a group of users that the buyer is switching to a different supplier, this may create enough backlash that the buyer won’t actually make the switch.

Your key is to not wait until you get into a problem like this to call upon your relationships with users.

You must develop these relationships early, and in so doing, encourage them to make regular comments to the buyer about the value of you and what you provide them.

Over the years I have had many discussions with buyers who have shared with me examples of suppliers who could have been replaced with a lower-cost supplier but were never replaced.  The reason they weren’t replaced was simple — the switch was simply not worth the grief the buyer would have to take from the people who use the product.

This is just one aspect you must explore if your buyer is threatening to switch.  Below are the other questions you must consider as well:

How do you know they have even started the process of finding an alternative source?

How much will it cost the customer to switch suppliers?

Can the new supplier even handle it?

How secure is the new price they say they can get?

What is the reason behind the customer saying they may quit buying from you? How do you know this?

How long would it take for them to make the switch to a new supplier?

Copyright 2011, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter.” Sales Motivation Blog.

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