Competition knows no greater intensity than on the ice, the links or court. It’s perhaps a personal counter to what we do In business: equivocate.
Successful, differentiated selling requires knowledge-supremacy over competitors. Merely meeting competition on some dimension like price is inferior to proposjng a value proposition that pushes the player past break even into profitability. The distinction between approaches may be defined as follows.
Equivalence: Price is reduced to meet or beat the competitor. “If they can do it, we can too.” (Internal rationalization without evidence.)
Value supremacy: Stand fast on the price. “Something is wrong with the competitor’s calculation and it should investigate, or reject, it out-of-hand.” (External challenge with evidence.)
For example, a sheetfed salesperson in Burnaby was recently informed by her customer that a “price was too high.” The job involved 35,000 lbs. of coated stock which· the estiniator had sourced through three merchants. With value- added at 50-55%, her price was an modest $59,500. Instead of withdrawing from the negotiation guilt-ridden and ineffectual, she turned-the-table and challenged the buyer to test the competitor’s calculations.
“The paper is $29,000.” she demonstrated by sharing a written quotation (the highest one) from the supplier, If you can buy the paper better, we’ ll credit you this amount.”
The buyer, of course, was not remotely interested in becoming a paper procurer, nor did she know how to do so. Evidence in hand, the salesperson was ready to dial up the paper distributor to prove it. A pre-emptory challenge! The competitor was compromised without “firing a shot.” More than getting the job, she demonstrated integrity and trust over the competitor, transparency in revealing some of her costs and value by going the extra mile.
This brings us to another challenge. Suppose the paper is stolen. Not by hijacking a paper-Iadened truck but stolen paper as defined by wood harvesting definitions.
Where does the paper you are considering originate? Canada? Not likely if the printing job is tendered at less than a 2.5- times multiple of the market rate. Again, the tactic is to question the integrity of the product against which you are competing. Don’t assume that an estimating mistake was made or that the other printer is desperate. Why? Because paper is no longer a commodity for which everyone pays the same price. There are in fact two new sources of paper:
1) containing wood by-products legally harvested, and 2) that made from wood by-products illegally or suspiciously harvested. North American paper is legal because of convention and regulation. In many other places, however forests are cut down illegally and the fibers are manufactured into not-so-fine papers.
The challenge at the sales call: Do you know from where your paper is coming? The proof: Go to the of American Forest and Paper Association website, www. afandpa.com and download the bubble maps that show 8-10% of the world’s paper supply is illegally or suspiciously harvested. Indonesia is at over 50%, China at over 30%, and Brazil over 10%. Then, counter with stats from the Canadian Sustainable Forestry Certification Coalition which confirms our country’s practices and commitments.
By Canadian standards, paper that is probably made from illegally harvested pulp is reason enough for buyers to reject low-price tenders. We may not be able to stop the flow of these imported papers but we can offer proof that it is far from “bestpractice”.
Canadian Council of Forest Ministers – ccfm.org
Natural Resources Canada –
Canadian Forest Service – nrcanrncan.gc.cal cfs-scf
Canadian Model Forest Network – ncr.forestry.ca
Environment Canada – ec.gc.ca
Climate Change – climatechange.gc.ca
Forest Products Association of Canada – fpac.ca