23 Jun What will I tell my Boss?

smart buyer happy to buy gourmet ingredientsFor a long time, baby cribs used in hospitals were hard to make and were expensive.

Then, as with many manufactured products, they became easier to make and consequently less expensive. Budget conscious corporate buyers saw an advantage to the lower prices, and “I bought the cheapest” became a mark of pride. The industry leader had to find a way to push for greater revenues. They talked to the nurses who actually used the cribs, in order to find a new innovative edge. They found it by creating a crib that could keep track of the newborns’ weight. They were more expensive to make and cost more to buy, but they made the cheaper cribs look inadequate. The new mark of pride became, “This crib saves lives.”

This crib was ten times more expensive than the competition, but became a bestseller anyway.

It is human nature to seek the cheapest price on anything.

On a personal level, it’s part of our self-preservation instinct: whatever you don’t spend, you get to keep for later. And by extension, if you save money for your employer, it helps you keep your job.

So what happens when you have to buy something above the cheapest price? What will you tell your boss? Whether the “boss” is an actual manager, a spouse or even yourself, it is still a question that must be asked and answered.

In a world where all products are online and comparing prices is effortless, it is very tempting to choose the cheapest. After all, “I picked the cheapest” is an easy story to tell. The other easy way to choose is by picking the most popular. This is what everyone else is doing, which makes it a safe decision to make. That is where the expression “you can’t go wrong by buying IBM” came from. It’s where fashions and trends come from, to this day.

Should vendors fight against the concepts of “safe” and “cheap?”

If so, how does one fight it? How does a vendor define success on this path? At Qualifirst we fight “safe” and “cheap” by creating new real categories; categories that allow us to be a leader. We focus our sales efforts on making true advances.

The safe route for any food purchaser – such as a restaurant chef – is to buy from the number one or number two big seller, because no one will blame them for it. Large companies make this easy by widening the definition of certain foods. They will say things like, “We are the biggest supplier in the food business, so you should buy all your food from us.” They will expand their definitions further by identifying meat as “protein,” fruits as “carbs” and olive oils as “fat.” These are very broad definitions, but they tend to make customers feel they are doing the right thing by buying “safe” and “cheap.”

Our answer is, food cannot fit into one category.

Meat, fish, produce, gourmet foods – these are all separate categories. Even salt is not a single category. Table Salt, crystal salt , Kosher salt are all legitimate categories that did not evenexist not that long ago.

This is the road we have learned to travel with each customer and prospect, one-by-one.

What helps us progress along this road? First we get to know each customer or prospect by learning specific new information about them. We learn by:

  • better understanding what problems we can solve for them
  • finding out their current suppliers, and what they like and dislike about them
  • gaining a deeper understanding of their supply challenges, such as high minimums, or poor delivery schedules
  • finding out more about the brand, price and supplier that we seek to replace
  • finding out the customer’s ‘why’, and what motivates them
  • meeting in person with someone new, or with a specific learning agenda
  • reviewing a customer’s current products/uses
  • asking for customer’s requirements – basically have them share with us their recipe for development

We use this information to carve out the categories where Qualifirst can become the leader. In turn, our customers learn that these separate categories actually exist and then they come to Qualifirst to buy.

Customers and prospects need to realize: not buying from Qualifirst actually costs them business.

It should not be an option. The fact is, Qualifirst helps bring in the customers they want.

One of our primary goals at Qualifirst is to make it easy for our customers to brag that they buy from us.

They should feel pride in stating, “I bought the best. I bought from Qualifirst because Qualifirst is gourmet, and smart buyers such as myself do not buy gourmet ingredients from the same company we buy everything else. Because that is what we stand for.”

That’s something that any buyer can confidently explain to their boss.

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