Exploring unchartered territory is always an uphill battle.
Trade Vitality routinely encounters individuals who face challenges, obstacles, and have specific questions surrounding the minimum advertised price policy and repercussions that arise from price monitoring and MAP enforcement.
In our conversations with prospective clients, we’ve heard endless reasons why MAP monitoring software and / or Trade Vitality isn’t the right solution for a particular brand. There are some that come up more often than others and we wanted to tackle these head on, and get some facts straight.
Let’s take a look at some of these!
THE 6 COMMON OBJECTIONS TO MAP MONITORING SOFTWARE
.....And in no particular order, here’s our list of common responses that we hear on the daily.
Objection #1: “Oh, we already monitor and enforce our MAP policy, manually!”
First off, good on these brands for having some sort of enforcement process in place. Yet leaving MAP compliance to be done manually leaves a lot of room for error. Many times, doing things manually translates into a process that’s unorganized, decentralized, inconsistent, and time consuming. Although these brands are a step ahead with MAP monitoring, there’s probably a few (dozen or hundred) violations that they’re missing out on because they don’t have the capacity to track their sellers like software can do.
Objection #2: “We just rely on our retailers to tell us, it's been working so far” or “the big retailers turn in the cheaters for us!”
Now to some brands, this strategy may be considered an ideal enforcement process. You have people you trust looking out for your brand, because why wouldn’t they? If they don’t, they will be impacted by the negative consequences as well. But this kind of thinking and approach leaves you vulnerable to unknown MAP violations.
Your sellers don’t have the time to be watching your network, let alone the big guys who’ll often screw over the little guys to make that extra buck (there’s a term we use for this called ‘tattletaling’). This laid back, passive approach really just screams to your sellers: “we want to make you think we care, but we really don’t”.
Objection #3: “The cost is not really in our budget” or “it's too expensive for us”
Have a read about the unknown marketing channel that most brands with products don’t think about. In the online era, there are extra considerations that businesses need to address to remain viable and successful. In your case, it’s prioritizing your MAP policy and ensuring it’s enforced across all channels -- both offline AND offline.
It’s an investment that will take time and money upfront, but will pay off in the long run in terms of brand equity and maintaining seller profit margins. Brands tend to think too short-term when it comes to their policy, which is why MAP policies often fail and get a bad rep.
Objection #4: “We don't have the time to learn the software”
Again, similar to the above, your MAP policy is an investment. Not just in terms of money, but also in time. We’re not going to sugar coat it, you’ll need to put in a litttttle effort at the beginning to get the software all figured out, but once you’re up and running, you’re golden. Plus, we have heard some of our existing clients say that the reason why they went with us is because of how easy to use it is -- so there’s not too much to learn here, we like to keep our dashboard simple. We also offer the option of hopping on a call with one of Customer Happiness team members for a screenshare session to learn about our software right from the beginning.
Objection #5: “We don't want to see a drop in our sales by making people sell at our MAP price”
Yes, this will happen. This is okay. This is just for the short-term. We’ll be honest with you -- you will see an initial drop in sales, but that’s ONLY in the beginning. The whole purpose of your MAP policy is to protect your sellers’ profit margins. This provides them with the security and safety net to reinvest back into your products, so they can sell more = more revenue and more profit for everyone.
Objection #6: “We don't have a violation issue, what are you talking about? All of our sellers are good, we've heard no complaints”
There are several brands out there who don’t hear a peep from their sellers. This is similar to Objection #2, maybe a bit worse since you don’t hear about or are aware of the violators in your network. The brands taking this approach are the worst off.
There are always people out there looking to make a quick buck, and they’ll tend do it at another business’ expense. Your sellers don’t necessarily have the time to keep their eyes peeled for violators, nor report back to you. If you have distributors between you and your sellers, the chance of complaints climbing up the flagpole are quite slim.
After getting a sense of the general feeling towards MAP monitoring software, we developed a few responses to help brands understand the importance of using the right tool to manage MAP compliance.
OUR THOUGHTS AND TAKEAWAYS
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but we emphasize these four main points when speaking to prospects. It’s all about a brand’s mindset.
1) Your sellers don't necessarily have your back, especially the big timers
Big retailers are some of the worst offending tattletailers. They’ll claim small companies are selling lower than your MAP price and turn right around and do it themselves without you knowing -- this makes them look like the good guys and everyone else the bad ones.
As we’ve mentioned, sellers may not have the time or want to make the effort to complain to you about the violators in your network. They might not see a point. This is especially the case if there’s a middleman between you and your sellers. The more hassle, the less likely you’ll hear complaints -- they’re too busy with their own businesses to tell you. Don’t get us wrong, there are sellers out there who do, there always is. At the end of the day, it sets up a bad customer experience for your compliant sellers and creates the wrong expectations for everyone.
2) Follow the 80/20 rule
When brands come to us, they think they need to add ALL of their product SKUs to our software to get started. That plus learning how to use a new tool can be overwhelming. We tell our prospects that that’s not necessary. When you start using a MAP monitoring software, focus on the top 20% of your SKUs -- the ones that you sell every day. When you get those products meeting MAP compliance, the other 80% will fall into place. Think about this: your sellers don’t necessarily know what products you’re monitoring and which ones you’re not. They’ll just think you’re monitoring and enforcing your policy across the board.
3) Your MAP policy is a long-term investment
We’ll always emphasize that your MAP policy is a long-term play that will see heaps of benefits if you ride out the initial rocky bits -- they’re expected. Sales may go down a bit, you’ll spend a bit more money, and you’ll need to do some training to ramp up, but it’s taking on the mindset that anything that’s an investment doesn’t come with instant results.
For example, take a look at Nike or GoPro, you can’t find any of their new products discounted anywhere. Then you may think, “Okay, Trade Vitality, I’m not that big, I don’t have those kind of resources.” That’s fine. You don’t need to be that big or have those kinds of resources. You just need to be diligent and consistent, and understand that it will take time.
We understand that your MAP policy may be an expense that you haven’t incurred before, however, the growth of the internet has forced brands to consider these new types of costs. Do you want your sellers motivated to sell and move your products? If there are no profit margins, which is what a MAP price protects, sellers won’t be motivated to go out there to market and promote your product.
4) Differentiate yourself beyond price
The online world has made it necessary for brands to differentiate themselves on more than just price. With MAP price creating a fair race and an even playing field that doesn’t encourage people to cheat the system, brands need to consider how they’ll get customers through the door.
End consumers are looking to brands and retailers who have great customer service, a phone number that they can call, free shipping, etc. And with that profit margin protected by your MAP policy, sellers can invest in creating those great end customer experiences that’ll get them to the top of their industry and selling more.
How many of these “objections” can you relate to? What are your thoughts on our takeaways? Your MAP policy is more than just a simple agreement unilaterally enforced across your sellers network. Its impact can ripple throughout your brand and entire business. MAP enforcement shouldn’t just a be a tick in the box, make it a priority.