Many of you have been having issues with talking to buyers.
To get something out of the buyer, it takes tact and diplomacy.
Buyers are international, and they have different cultures. Saying something one way may offend them while you think it’s perfectly fine.
The tone you use in your written word also plays a part.
Learn to keep it friendly and transparent.
If you say something that doesn’t sit well with him, he probably wont respond to you.
Here are some potential problematic situations…
- Initial cold contact
- Initial conversation
- Pushing for a LOI
- Asking for his maximum target price
- Dealing with ridiculous demands
I’ll go over the type of language I use with buyers, below. Feel free to copy and use this with your buyers.
But remember, it wont work 100% of the time. You may have to adapt the words you use for the situation you are dealing with and the buyer’s temperament.
Initial Cold Contact
When you find the contact details for a potential buyer on Google or on a tradeboard, your first message to him is crucial. You need to craft your message in such a way where it compels him to respond to you. So there are certain psychological triggers which you can use to make this happen.
At the same time, you need to keep in mind that no matter what you do, some buyers just wont respond, and that is usually because they have lost interest in importing that product or it’s not high on their priority list or they made the RFQ post as a passing interest. So these types of buyers probably wont respond anyway.
The genuine and interested buyers will respond but you’ll probably get a 5-10% response rate, simply because the other 95% don’t check their messages or have become too busy to reply.
So if you receive a 5-10% response rate, you’re on the right track and there’s no need to worry. It’s quite normal.
Keep in mind that these buyers probably receive many replies from different suppliers and/or brokers.
They may be tired of receiving the same type of message and price that they have been receiving all along. Maybe that’s why they have lost interest.
So the question is, what are you going to say that will make you stand out and make them respond?
Whenever a buyer receives an email from a typical supplier, it usually goes like this…
Hello, my name is Xiao Lee. We produce and specialize in blue widgets. Blah blah blah.
The same typical boring email will not trigger a response from a buyer.
So you need to make sure you are different.
I usually get straight into the meat of it ,so the first few words they read heightens their interest, instead of having them wade through lines of unnecessary text.
My standard email goes like this:
Hi, I just read your request posted on the B2B portal. There’s a large amount of XXX available for supply on a continuous basis at a reasonably low price, quite possibly with a much better deal than you are receiving at the moment.
The specifications can be made to match or exceed what you require.
Are you still looking for this?
Depending on the product, I change the XXX for the product name.
This text mentions low price. It mentions a better deal. It mentions specifications. It mentions all this in as little text as possible.
The sole of aim of this text is to get the buyer to respond. That’s all it’s supposed to do.
Don’t add any unnecessary words or lines in there that you don’t need to, unless its specific to the product or price.
So if you were to make it more personalized for the buyer, you’ll have greater chances of a response.
For example, it you tailor the text to say something like…
I have the blue widgets you asked for at a lower price than you have seen up till now. Do you want to deal with the shipping yourself of do you want me to have it delivered to Florida? I noticed you live there so I’m assuming you want it delivered there. Let me know asap so I can start arrangements.
The more personalized you make it, the better.
Notice that I asked a question in the text which often prompts a buyer to respond to that question.
Also notice that I didn’t say anything about being a Contract Manager. Instead I acted like I was the supplier but I didn’t lie about anything.
The whole purpose is to get a response, after which we can iron out the finer details and reveal everything.
After the buyer has responded, he will most probably answer your question or he may ask for more details.
The aim of this conversation is to keep him interested enough to have him work with you and be ready to give you a LOI for your use.
I’m assuming this conversation will take place in real-time on Skype or Whatsapp.
So start off by responding to whatever he says. If he wants to talk about queen and country, then oblige him. If he wants to get straight into business, then follow his lead.
Don’t jump straight into business if that’s not how he wants to start (remember different cultures work differently).
Once you start the business conversation, focus on his requirements and ask him more in-depth questions about his requirements.
Show him that you are interested in the actual item that he is ordering. Don’t focus on anything else.
Ask questions like: what size? what colour? Where does he want it delivered?
Once you have the basics ironed out, then ask him about his payment preference. How would he like to pay?
After that, ask him what ‘s the maximum price he is willing to pay.
When you have all this information, then you need to sell yourself to him.
Let him know that you are not the supplier but you will contact 100+ suppliers for him to find the best deal with the lowest price. Depending on how the conversation is steered, you may have had to disclose this a little earlier. But you need to let him know now that you will do what you do best to make sure he receives the best deal while he continues his business at home.
Sell it to him and make him believe that you will do what is necessary to finalize the deal for him.
Once you have built this rapport and he believes you, now it’s time to ask for the LOI. I’ll cover the words for this below.
If you find that the buyer does not get back to you after this initial consultation, then that means you may not have done a good job in convincing him. Or it may be that he’s just wasting time.
Pushing for LOI
After you have asked for the LOI, he may respond in one of three ways.
- No, I don’t work with LOI, or I won’t make one.
- Yes, I’ll make that for you.
- I need your price and terms first before I make it.
If he’s not willing to make the LOI, determine if it’s because he is lazy or because his type of business is so fast moving and their culture doesn’t normally deal with paperwork as much. If it’s the 2nd reason, then it may be worth continuing without the LOI. If he’s just lazy, give him the words below.
If he promises to make the LOI for you, great. Wait for it. If he still hasn’t sent it by the next day, ask him again politely. Push 2-3 times. If he still hasn’t made it, then leave him an ultimatum and move on to the next buyer. It would seem that he doesn’t have enough interest to purchase the product urgently, thus ending up wasting your efforts.
If he wants the price or terms first (or he’s a bit lazy as above), then you need to explain your part role and how the system works.
You can use these type of words:
I will be contacting 100+ suppliers for you to get you the best possible deal and the lowest possible price, specifically for the requirements you have mentioned.
Now most of these suppliers want your requirements written down on your letterhead (known as LOI) before they will take you seriously and give a price.
So without the written LOI, it will be very difficult to get the best deal for you and fast.
How soon can you write down your very own requirements on your letterhead for these suppliers?
This text explains the situation while urging them to write it at the same time. It also ends with a question, indicating that he has no choice. His answer has to be a timeframe, thus making him commit.
Do you see how this text is not blasting him by being angry, but rather encouraging and pushing him while being nice about it. If he still doesn’t send the LOI after pushing him 2-3 times, dump him.
Maximum Target Price
Sometimes, when you ask for the buyer’s maximum target price (the max amount he is willing to pay for the product), he will ask you to quote him first.
The psychology behind this is, he doesn’t want to give you his max price because if you have a lower price already, you may just raise it to match his maximum price.
So he wants to take advantage of the lowest possible price available (naturally).
The problem for a Contract Manager is, you may contact one supplier and he gives you a price. Then you spend time finding out about that supplier’s terms and conditions and quantities etc… You then relay this price to the buyer and he rejects it saying “it’s too much“.
So then you go back to the drawing board and do the same thing over and over again.
If you had the maximum target price already, you could have spoken to hundreds of suppliers and rejected those that didn’t fit the max price set by the buyer. You could also negotiate with them to lower their prices and you would know how much commission you can play around with.
So it’s important you get the buyer’s maximum price before you start searching for a supplier.
When he gives you his max price, he may make it lower anyway just to try his luck.
So if he gives you a max price of say $170 per ton, then ask him, “if I find a great supplier who meets your payment condition and is verified, but he quotes $180, should I reject him straight away?”
If the buyer starts thinking about it, then that means his max price was not $170. You need to dig deeper and find out his absolute limit. Or you could contact suppliers anyway and report back any price just above his max price (including your commission).
If he just doesn’t want to give his max price, try using the following words…
I will be contacting hundreds of suppliers for you and each of them will be giving me different prices. I can’t keep running back to you after each price.
So I need to know which ones I can reject straight away according to your maximum target and terms.
If I don’t have your absolute maximum target, I will be wasting many many hours which would be counter-productive for us.
So give me your best price and I will try and find you something even lower for you if I can.
If the buyer just doesn’t want to give you his maximum price, even after giving him the pitch above, then you can play a smart trick on him in order to extract his max price.
Contact him again the next day and quote him one of the higher prices you find on Alibaba listings. Once he refuses that, he will say something like “That’s too much. The max I can afford to pay is $xxx.”
Works many times.
During your initial conversation with the buyer or when you receive his LOI, you may notice that he is asking for something which could be very hard to find.
For example, he may ask for payment to be accepted after he checks the goods at the destination port.
Hardly any supplier would accept such a condition on the first shipment.
So you need to convince him to change this request and accept a more reasonable condition.
The way to do that is with social proof of your experience.
Generally, I would use a pitch like this…
I have spoken to hundreds of suppliers from across the world that exist on the database. And I do mean hundreds of them (not just a few). After conversing with all of them, I learned that none of them, and I mean not a single supplier anywhere is willing to accept such a condition from a brand new buyer on the first shipment.
So I know that if I spend a few days of my time looking for the best supplier with the lowest price just for you, I will probably find a few, but I know that none of them will accept this condition that you are asking for. So then I would have found some great verified suppliers but I would have wasted a few days of my time for this simple issue.
Knowing this, are you willing to negotiate on this term? Are you willing to make a small change to make this deal go forward?
This text has some psychological triggers built in. Try it and see if it works.
When he starts wavering, you can push him some more in order to make him change that condition for a more favourable one.
In conclusion, the words you use are very important.
Words contain psychological triggers which can make people change their mind. If you use certain power words or dramatic words, these can alter the perception of a buyer.
If you find that a certain way of talking works for you, use it again and again.
Learning how to read your buyer is a skill. When you become good at it, you can manipulate them (in a good way) to your advantage.
Hope this helps,