Awhile back I wrote a post on questions you must ask yourself when a customer threatens to go to switch their business to one of your competitors.

To further strengthen your selling skills and sales motivation, I started peeling back the layers on each of these questions (All the posts thus far are listed at the bottom of this post, so keep reading).

Today we look at Question 6:

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

My answer? A lot longer than they think it will!

Almost without exception every customer will underestimate the time to switch.  For some customers this can escalate into a huge issue.  If the customer is in the OEM channel, switching suppliers can mean having to inventory two sets of parts…or having to run another set of quality control tests.

A food-service company suddenly having two sets of anything will many times create confusion about what to use. Honestly, there are hundreds of examples I’ve seen where the time it takes to switch winds up being longer and in doing so creates huge additional problems.

Few customers take into consideration all of the issues that can occur.  Moving to a new supplier can suddenly expose old inventory that had been misplaced, or it can result in people discarding the left over inventory merely because they feel it is old. In both cases the timeline the buyer is believing when things will be correct can suddenly become either too long or too short.

Again, this is another set of issues that not only changes how long it takes but also changes how much it costs to switch.

As the salesperson who may potentially lose the customer, never be shy about calling out to the buyer the issues they may incur in switching.

If the buyer is not used to making changes in vendors, the information you share can very well help them avoid a significant problem. To do this means you have to understand all of the issues. This is why I encourage you to document the timeline with new customers you pick up.  Use your own experiences as a guide to help the customer. In so doing, you will be helping yourself.

One of the best ways you can do this is by developing a timeline in advance that shows key issues. Having a sales tool like this ready to be used at anytime can prove to be the best solution in helping you work with the customer to prevent a change.

Be sure to read through the other questions we’ve explored with the links below.  Your sales motivation is worth it!

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?

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

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