How to Convert Price Shoppers Into Value Buyers
Tom Stimson
December 2, 2022

Want to attract fewer price shoppers? Stop sending out price-leader vibes.

I had a call the other day with a coaching client who told me his company had just landed a huge and unexpected job. Even though he was swamped, he felt like he couldn’t turn it down because he’d been chasing this client for years.

In the past, this particular buyer always beat him up over price and took his business somewhere else. So, when he finally got the chance to work with this buyer, he took it.

The problem? The job turned out to be a total drain on the business. To top it off, he got beat up on price again.

Playing the Price Shopper Game might win you a job, but it rarely wins you a client.

Quoting and re-quoting for price shoppers is expensive, time-consuming, and can suck the life out of you. Price shoppers take four times as much of your energy, yet you are four times less likely to win the job.

If price shoppers just seem to find you, you may be attracting them by sending price-leader vibes. Maybe you’re signaling you’ll beat any price, even if you don’t mean to.

The Unintentional Price-Leader Vibe

A quick way to audit to see if you’re sending out the wrong vibe is to take an objective look at your website. That’s likely where the price shopper is getting their information.

Covering your site with brand names and technology and equipment logos signals you’re trying to establish a price point by capitalizing on other brands’ reputations. This indicates to the shopper that they’ll be able to negotiate with your company.

Additionally, if your website has no real mention of who your customers are or what your finished product is, it immediately signals that your value is based on price. The absence of better information indicates the lack of a value proposition.

Next, if your website promotes price-conscious solutions like double-dipping technical roles, the buyer will get the vibe that there’s room to negotiate on price. For example, when you pitch, “I have a person who’s both a projectionist and a lighting technician,” or “If we use this piece of equipment, then we don’t have to use this other piece of equipment,” the shopper automatically sees you moving toward price-conscious solutions because you’re already predisposed to it.

And then there’s the word “compare.” This word doesn’t belong in value-based project selling. Unless you’re a price shopper, there’s no such thing as an apples-to-apples comparison.

The second you start comparing your work to others or branding yourself as “a leader” in your region (i.e. your business is local), you’re presenting an apples-to-apples proposal and inviting price shoppers.

If a price shopper comes to you and says, “So and so down the street said they could do this job for this amount,” you have to go back and change your price because you’ve already used the word “compare.”

On that note, never use geography to indicate your price point. People who aren’t selling on price aren’t selling on geography, either.

All of the above are solid indicators to a shopper who is price sensitive or price manipulative (the intentional price shopper is always price manipulative) that they can do business with you.

If your website checks any of the boxes I’ve mentioned, you’re sending out the wrong vibe.

Infographic: ISL - 12/5

Which Buying Style Should You Attract?

You may recall this post about confidence, value, and control buyers. Ultimately, price shoppers are value-control buyers.

The control buyer wants to be the expert in charge. They also want to focus on price. Value buyers aren’t necessarily price shoppers — they just want to make sure they’re getting good bang for their buck. Be sure you’re not conflating the two.

A value buyer might initially present as a price shopper, but you can’t automatically pigeonhole a buyer who wants to talk about price. If you spend a little time with them, you may be able to uncover their value-based perception and help them see there are better ways to buy than on price alone.

Your job is to determine whether someone who’s price shopping is doing it because they don’t know better or because they think they know better. In other words, when you come across a price shopper, don’t hang up automatically.

Confidence, value, and control buyers are all good buyers. You just have to deal with them differently.

Converting Price Shoppers Into Value Buyers

Not everyone has a value-based approach to buying. Some people exclusively buy based on price. The sooner we find that out, the sooner we can move on. But just because a buyer comes to you as a price shopper doesn’t mean they can’t be converted into a value buyer.

Here’s the first step: Never judge a buyer’s budget or perception of budget.

Remember, a shopper’s budget may be based on a lack of knowledge about what it is they’re buying. By judging their budget, you’re judging their knowledge. Who’d want to talk to you after that?

If a shopper’s budget seems unreasonable or a little off, find better ways to process it. Ask, “If we can’t meet all your requests at that price, what’s your highest priority?” This gets the shopper to express what’s important to them, which is a value-based communication.

If they don’t share their budget (many value buyers won’t because they don’t feel they have enough information to know what their budget should be), it’s time to move into help mode.

One of my favorite lines is, “Help me understand how I can help you today.” Open that door, so the buyer can say, “We just don’t know what the job is worth,” or, “We don’t know what to ask for.”

Rather than trying to sell something right away, spend a little time educating them. The results may amaze you.

But sometimes a value shopper is stuck with a budget, and has no choice but to ask, “What can I get for this price point?”

This enables you to work on solutions that meet the budget. Help the buyer understand what they can get for their budget and help them understand the trade-offs. Say, “Here’s how we can use your budget to accomplish most of what you want. Here’s what you should give up and why it’s worth giving up.”

The process of educating the buyer about what their budget will cover might even motivate them to go find more budget!

In any case, no one wants to get beat over the head about their lack of available funds. If you judge the buyer’s budget, they might call somebody else for the job, even if they’re able to find some more money. You don’t want that.

At the end of the day, it literally pays to be kind.

About Tom Stimson
Tom Stimson MBA, CTS is an authority on business and strategy for small- to medium-sized companies. He is an expert on project-based selling and a thought leader for innovative business processes.
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