It seems the world is filled with unscrupulous competitors. Last year, during one of my Sales Training Boot Camps, someone asked this question.
"The products we sell are made from petroleum based raw materials and our material costs have skyrocketed 40% this year - how do we pass this on to our customers?"
And then there was a part B. to this question. "How do we pass this on to our customers when our major competitor is holding steady with their prices?"
Well there are all kinds of possibilities to consider. The competitor may be selling from excess inventory and can afford to hold prices steady for a while.
They can be deliberately low-balling their prices to gain market share.
They could be doing a sales-a-ma-dazzle - I made that up - keeping prices low for the short term and then raising them, once they have the business, for the long term.
Have you been to a gas station lately?
Have you been to a supermarket lately.
Have you received your homeowners insurance bill lately?
Have you looked at the interest rates on your credit cards lately?
What they all have in common are rising prices. These higher prices are being passed on to you because the seller's costs are going up.
There are no quick and easy ways for salespeople to pass price increases to customers. But you have to make a profit and companies who don't make a profit can go out of business - have you been reading the newspapers lately?
So one option is to build a case for your customers. Offer evidence showing how much your raw material costs are going up. Offer more proof about how your company is decreasing and even eliminating some costs of manufacturing.
Your customers won't like it but you'll be in a much better position if your customers understand the reasons why.
What if you're dealing with unscrupulous competitors? These unscrupulous competitors are telling your customers they will not pass their higher cost of raw materials to their customers.
What are these unscrupulous competitors really saying?
Are they saying they won't be raising prices today?
Are they saying they won't be raising prices tomorrow?
Are they saying they won't be raising prices ever?
Your competitors aren't magicians. They can't keep swallowing rapidly rising raw material costs.
Sooner or later and it's probably closer to sooner than later - they'll have to raise their prices.
Let your customers know you're put in a Catch 22 position. If you raise your prices you may lose the business. If you don't raise your prices your company becomes unprofitable and could go out of business.
If you're competing against an unscrupulous competitor, it's possible they'll take your business and then raise their prices.
Ask your customer if he's getting a written commitment and a specific time frame for the lower pricing.
Ask your customer if he has included penalty clauses if terms of the contract are broken or changed.
Ask your customer how he will feel if he switched the business to your competitor and soon after the competitor raised his prices? Your customer will not be very happy. Get him to admit that.
You can also ask, "What happens when that happens?" Getting your customer thinking about this before it happens is a good sales tactic to employ.
There's another seed you can plant. You can ask a question that sticks and lingers if your competitor gets your business by not raising his prices.
How will your customer respond when your competitor does raise prices because of the increasing raw material costs?
When you expect your competitor to change his tune about not raising prices, try playing hardball with your customer by asking this question.
"When they call you, will you call me?"
Most customers realize it's in their own best interests to work with profitable suppliers.
And in fact, "Profitability is the applause of a happy customer."
Keep your customers happy and they'll keep giving you the business - even when you're raw materials costs are going up.
P.S. - Use the form below to sign-up for my FREE Start Selling More Newsletter.