How Distributors Can Help Managers Make Better Buying Decisions

Facility managers (FMs) make buying decisions every day for their facilities. Typically, they do this in one of two ways:
 • They evaluate products presented to them one by one.
 • They assess all the product offerings at the same time.

“It would appear that when FMs assess each product individually, they would make the best buying decision,” says Michael Wilson, vice president of AFFLINK, a sales and marketing organization for the distribution industry. “However, that may not always be the case.”

Wilson points to a 2017 study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. In this study, nearly 3,000 people were shown six different laptops and asked to select the computer that was the best value based on cost, RAM, storage, battery life and warranty. (Researchers had already determined which laptop was the best value.) The study found:

•   75 percent of the participants who examined the six laptops individually selected the best machine

•   But, 84 percent of those that reviewed all the laptops at the same time, selected the best device

In another experiment, participants were asked to imagine they owned a restaurant and had to order five food items every week. The items were priced differently and differed in size and quantity.

They could work with five different distributors. Once again, the researchers had already determined which distributor offered the best price/value. Here were the results:

•   55 percent of the participants identified the best distributor when evaluating the items one by one

•   61 percent selected the best distributor when they evaluated all the products at the same time

“It appears that when FMs analyze all their buying options at the same time, they are better able to compare and select the best value,” says Wilson. “This study suggests that distributors provide these customers with all their buying options at the same time. This can improve the quality of their customer’s [purchasing] decisions.”