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Initial Contact With Your Customers
 
This is a critical period for you to establish new business.  Below are some ideas and recommendations you should use when you initially talk to a new customer.
  • Talk only to those that make buying decisions.  If you call a company and someone else other than a buying authority answers the phone, asked to be put in contact with whomever is in purchasing, such as the president of the company, their general manager, operations manager and so on.
  • Never just give out pricing without first knowing what your customer buys and HOW MUCH of that item is purchased at a time or over a 30 day period.  The first thing you want to do once you have contact with the buyer is to find out what they buy, how often they buy and their usages.  Their usages means volume.  If you have a customer that buys 2000 boxes a month and another that buys only 250, it's not fair for the customer buying 250 boxes to pay the same price as the 2000 box buyer.
  • Once you understand your customers needs, you know what their usages are and their volume, you can now properly price them.  If you go into a new customer and offer to sell product ABCD for $1.00, they might already be paying $1.50 for that item, so why offer them such a low price.  Find out their current prices first and then counter with a better deal, such as a 5 to 10% discount off their current pricing.
  • Always know your product line
  • Always know who your competition is, meaning who else is in your area selling the same thing as you
  • Always know your competitors pricing.  If you know what your competitor is selling your items for, you can qualify your buyers price when he/she claims to pay far less.  If you don't know what your competitors are selling for, then you can't really challenge the price
  • It's a fact, most customers will lie to you on what they pay for an item, so plan for that.  This goes back to knowing what your competition is selling for.  The more you know about your product line and what your competitors are doing, the better you will be. 
  • You are working in a business where every penny counts.  This means that a single penny on a larger order can make or break you.
  • You may not always be the best price, but rest assured you will win in service.
  • When possible, find out who your customers buy from.
  • When possible, find out what your customer pay for their product(s).  Most customers will gladly share that with you if you ask them.
  • Collect invoices from your customer when possible and use them to counter your prices to help save them just a little more
  • Get the business first!  That is priority #1.  Once you get the business, you can settle on pricing for future purchases later.  If you offer a really good deal for a first order and we show your customers what we can do, let them know that their pricing is subject to change later and that the initial price was just a thank you for their first order.  Most are receptive to this.
  • Use me as the bad guy!  If you have a customer trying to work you over on pricing and they claim to pay much less than your offer, tell them that you would love to match or beat their pricing, but will need to clear it through the company president.  When you do that, you look like the good guy trying to help them and the same time, you have a strong chance of getting a hold of a competitors invoice.  Your solution is to say, "how about you give me or fax me over a copy of your most recent invoice and I'll take that to my boss and see if we can beat that price".  You win at this point if you get the invoice.  If a customer is not willing to do that, it is very likely that they are not telling you the truth about their pricing.  LOOK AT DATES WHEN YOU GET AN INVOICE.  A LOT OF COMPANIES WILL GIVE YOU AN INVOICE THAT IS OVER A YEAR OLD.  DON'T FALL FOR THIS.  ASK FOR A CURRENT PRICE SHEET, SOMETHING AS RECENT AS 90 DAYS OR LESS OLD.
  • Not all business is good business.  Remember, we work to be profitable and we cannot do that in overall margins of 20% or less.  Please keep in mind that we have warehouses, trucks, staff, and overhead that have to be paid, so depending on the volume of your customer, their business may not be someone we want.  Low margins can work, but would require a lot of volume and a strong commitment from your customer.  Especially if we are stocking their products.
 
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