I was running a public program in Chicago the other day and one of the participants started a discussion about "decision making". They wanted a suggestion or strategy on how to "keep prospects from shopping." You know the story, you give them great information on how to handle their problems, make an offer with competitive pricing and then instead of making a decision they stall and "shop your deal all over town". Sometimes you have the low price and get the deal, but too often it goes to another vendor for "just a little less".
I've always said "you can't change the way people make decisions" but you might be able to change the way they shop! What I mean by that is if it is their normal decision process to get three competitive prices, you telling them "they they can't do that" probably won't work. However, you may be able to get them to get the other vendors pricing first and then give yours. Thus, you get them to "change their shopping pattern".
(The first question you need to ask is "why do they feel the need to shop in the first place?" You may not be selling in a way that creates a difference or you are using a selling model that invites shopping. This often occurs because you are letting the prospect control what's happening. While there are many factors that contribute to this issue, we'll let it be a discussion for another day).
The example we were working with happened to involve a sales person that was selling a commodity item with no discernible product difference (i.e. steel, paper, ink, raw materials) that was also a consumable sale (product used or bought with frequency, rather than a one time capital purchase). The participant told me that she typically makes an offer with pricing and gets some of the business but often times loses to another vendor for "just a little less". It reminded me of the necessity of being "last" and being able to get the other vendors to make their offer first so if a price concession is necessary (not suggesting that this strategy is preferable) you at least have the chance to make it.
So, I asked this sales person a couple of questions;
When you win do you get the deal because you are the low offer?
The answer was yes (determines the prospects pattern).
Does the customer feel confident of your abilities to deliver?
The answer (predetermined by past action) was "yes", why else would they buy from us?
So, I suggested it might be an opportunity for us to change their "shopping pattern". Instead of providing the offer and letting the prospect "shop" off your offer, why not ask if the prospect would get the other offers first and give you an opportunity to "shop off the competitive offers" and see if you can beat their price? If they are willing to allow you the privilege of being last it might give you an opportunity to win more of the deals you are losing now for "just a little less". Also, the prospects willingness to allow you the privilege to be last demonstrates preference, making you more willing to commit time and energy to this opportunity.
Now, let's not let this be a "carte blanche invitation" to become a "price seller" but in context with this specific example changing their "shopping pattern" will give you better results! Take a risk, think out of the box and I'll bet you'll get better results!
Action Step: Identify 3 customers that you do business with now and ask them if they would be willing to "change their shopping pattern"!