A new client came to me recently because they were seeing many prospective customers moving their business offshore. The price disparity between buying from a North American supplier (my client) versus buying from a foreign (offshore) supplier was dramatic.
Although there is a lot going on here (in terms of economics, pricing, domestic-versus-foreign suppliers, shareholder pressure among customers, etc.), I want to focus on one simple strategy that can be used to help address this problem of buying from an offshore provider.
In a lot of industries companies used to buy locally because that was really the only option. Then the internet eliminated many of the cross-border buying barriers and suddenly countries that have a cheap labor market can underbid many domestic providers on nearly everything.
You see it in manufacturing; you see it in services. I noticed it when I was starting up my freelance writing business: I was bidding at a much higher price against freelance writers in India.
If you own a business that is facing the challenge of prospective customers who are going offshore for cheaper products and services, how do you win back that business?
YOU GET BACK INTO THE CONVERSATION
I recommend that you get back into the conversation. Specifically, you find a way to position yourself within the sales funnel of those offshore providers as a “checkpoint” that your customers will have to or want to cross before buying.
In my situation as a freelance writer years ago, I was able to get onto the same job-bidding platform and I used a variety of tools (especially pricing strategies and added value) to become a preferred service provider even if I wasn’t the cheapest. But another really helpful strategy was my book The Sales Funnel Bible which helped to demonstrate the importance of great marketing and sales copy all the way through the sales funnel. Prospective clients would read the book and come to understand that those offshore service providers might be cheap but they were just “order takers” – doing whatever work was assigned to them – while I always took my customers’ sales funnel into consideration when thinking about the work I was doing for them.
For a manufacturing client, I recommended that they do something similar: They need to investigate the offshore outsourcing marketplace in their specific industry and write a report on it. The report needs to be THE go-to resource on strategies and best practices to effectively outsource (domestically or internationally) and the report should implicitly position my client as a superior option. (There are many ways to do this effectively and ethically).
This helps put my manufacturing client back into the conversation: They become educators and advocates within their industry of effective outsourcing and they get back into the conversation – ultimately giving themselves a chance to show how their higher-priced product is still superior.
If you run a business that faces stiff competition that seems to be stealing away all of your customers, how can you get back into the conversation?