26 Feb What will I tell my Boss?



For a long time, baby cribs used in hospitals were difficult and expensive to produce.

As with many manufactured products, over time 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.

Because of this, the industry leader had to find a way to differentiate themselves to achieve greater revenues.

They talked to nurses who used the cribs every day, to find a new innovative edge. They found it by creating a crib that could keep track of the newborns’ weight. These cribs were more expensive to produce, and consequently cost more to buy. They made the cheaper cribs look inadequate and 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.

Spending less and saving more is part of our instinct for self-preservation. Whatever you don’t spend, you get to keep for later. Likewise, saving money for your employer, helps you keep your job.

So what happens when you have to buy something that is more expensive than the cheapest option? What will you tell your boss?

Whether the “boss” is an actual manager, spouse, or even yourself, it is still a question that must be asked, and ultimately answered.

Today, with online product search capability, comparing prices is effortless. It is very tempting to choose the cheapest. After all, “I chose the cheapest” is an easy story to tell.

Another simple option is choosing the most popular. Because it is what everyone else is doing, it is a safe decision to make. This is where the expression “you can’t go wrong with buying IBM” came from. Trends are born from this “purchasing by popularity” mentality.

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

How does a premium supplier of quality goods fight this? How does a vendor define success on this path?

Fight “safe” and “cheap” by creating new real categories. Categories that create leadership. Focus sales efforts on making true advances in the marketplace.

The safe route for any professional food purchaser, such as a restaurant chef, is to buy from the number one or number two largest seller. This is “safe” and no one will question them.

Large companies make the “safe” purchasing decision easy by broadening the definition of certain food categories. Their sales pitch includes such phrases as, “We are the biggest supplier in the food business, so you should buy all your food from us.”

They expand their definitions further by identifying all meats as “protein,” all fruits as “carbs” and all olive oils as “fats.” These broad definitions make customers feel they are doing the right thing by buying “safe” and “cheap.”

The quality answer is food cannot fit into one category.

Meat, fish, produce, and gourmet foods are all separate food categories. Even such staples as salt, is not a single category. Table salt, crystal salt, and kosher salt are all legitimate categories, that did not even exist that long ago.

This important distinction is the road to quality traveled with each customer and prospect, one-by-one.

What helps to progress along this road? Getting to know each customer and prospect by learning specific new information about them. This learning is achieved by:

  • Understanding the problems you can solve for them.
  • Finding out what they like and dislike about their current suppliers.
  • Gaining a deeper understanding of their supply challenges, such as high minimums, or poor delivery schedules.
  • Investigating the brand, price and supplier you seek to replace.
  • Discovering the customer’s true insights. What motivates them?
  • Meeting one-on-one with key players in the customer’s organization and understanding their role.
  • Reviewing the customer’s current products and how they are used.
  • Asking for the customer’s requirements. Listening to their recipe for development.

This information is used to carve out the categories where you excel and can act as the leader. In turn, customers learn to appreciate the importance of these separate categories, and actually seek you out specifically to buy.

Customers and prospects need to realize that not buying from the best actually costs them business.

It should not be an option. The fact is, quality brings in the best customers.

One primary goal is to make it easy for customers to brag that they buy from us.

Customers should feel pride in stating, “I bought the best from the best supplier because it is gourmet, and smart buyers like me do not buy gourmet ingredients from the same company we buy everything else. That is what we stand for.”

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