The Price IS Right!

Let's take a trip to a faraway land where you are the only seller of tools. Every shop you call on is full of customers that are so eager to buy that they actually call to make sure you left the house in good shape on their route day.

They race out to your truck to gorge themselves on the vast array of products you present to them. They are pleased to be able to get what they want and have plenty of cash available for you since no one else is selling to them. Price is not an issue - you are the only game in town!

We have now returned from that mythical place and must cope with the real world of tool selling. It seems as if there is a competitor hiding under every rock. In my 25 years as a toolman, the changes in this business have been astonishing.

In the early days it was the mobile distributor moving almost all the iron on the streets. Then the parts stores thought they should join the party. They were followed closely by the mail-order houses that solicited our customers directly. We all know what came next - the internet with its mind-numbing number of choices. Our final and most recent assault comes from e-Bay. How are we to conduct our business and survive this onslaught?

Our customers have many options, and they come with differing levels of pricing. It's easy for a buyer to check various sources for prices on the same product, and let's face it people, regardless of the name on the side of your truck, we all sell many of the same products. Our client base is becoming more savvy and some have figured out our game. This makes price comparisons alarming in certain situations.

We have heard too frequently how they can buy a tool from XYZ for less than we are offering it to them. This is when you need to shine up your salesperson hat.

If it's an item that I know is readily available and identifiable, I clearly state that if seeing it somewhere else for a lower price is going to upset them, they should purchase elsewhere. However, I do point out all the value the mobile distributor brings to the equation.

Service after the sale is a key point to illustrate. What happens when your new tool from XYZ breaks? Last time I checked the internet doesn't stop by to service repairs or honor a warranty!

Normal people who don't ship frequently find the thought of packing it up and sending it out distasteful. A strong asset we bring to the transaction is a quicker resolution to their problems.

Establish a reputation of getting air tool repairs handled rapidly. Do you offer loaner air tools? Having inventory in stock to replace warrantied items builds your value in their minds. If you don't have it when they ask, do all you can to bring it by next week.

While discussing price, make it clear that you take payments, and review the terms you need to make the deal work. You can also point out:

  • The obvious expense of running your truck.
  • Because you listen to their problems and life issues each week, maybe you're saving them the price of a shrink!
  • Also, being an easy place to handle warranties is incredibly valuable to the customer.
  • So is showing them new products and offering trade-ins when appropriate.

You won't ever have the lowest price, but if you play the game right, you will bring the most value to the table. If you do your job and point out the tangible benefits of buying from you, then the price objection becomes insignificant.

Rest assured that after someone has a negative experience purchasing on price alone, they will be back if what you provide tips the scales accordingly. Sometimes we have to reiterate what's in it for the customer.