Preferred Customers Specials – Sales Tactic #6

October 1, 2007


Remember the high school cafeteria where all the coolest kids sat at their own table?  You wouldn’t likely sit there without an invitation, what some people wouldn’t give for an invite like that.  Hopefully we’ve all grown up some since high school but everyone likes to feel special and a preferred customer invitation can still be hard to turn down.

Retailers love to pull out the Preferred Customer tactic when gunning for sales. A common approach is to send out a letter or email announcing a big sales event that is open to special customers only. “How did I become a preferred customer?”, you ask yourself.  “Oh well, who cares, I don’t want to miss out on preferred customer pricing”.

The truth of course is that retailers invite you because they prefer that you spend your money with them instead of someone else, making you a preferred customer. 

Warning Signs 
• Everyone Else Pays $100, You Pay $70  • Invitation Only
• Available Only for Preferred Customers  
• Use Your Preferred Customer Card

Tactic In Action
I received some sales letters from a local company a while back that epitomize the Preferred Customer tactic.  Here are some excerpts:

I truly appreciate your business. To prove it I’ve created an exclusive savings event just for you, something that WILL NOT BE ADVERTISED to the general public and will be available by invitation only!

Just mention this letter’s Special Financing and Savings and simply show your salesperson the enclosed card!

Because you’re a Preferred Customer, we want to offer you the price normally reserved for our Supplier Representatives for a LIMITED TIME only.  Supplier Pricing is the special low price offered to the representatives who sell supplies and services to us.

Offering Supplier Pricing to the public is a very rare event. On top of this special pricing, you can take advantage of Half-Off Delivery too!

What do you think?  Would this letter send you running as a preferred customer to the sale?

Protect Your Paycheck
At the bottom of the sales letter there is an interesting footnote:

“Because of the competitive nature of our business, some items may already be priced at or below Supplier Pricing.”

What I hear them saying is that they already offer the equivalent of Supplier Pricing on some items to the general public. If anyone can buy things at this price, what benefit is there to being a preferred customer?

In general it’s best to steer clear of Preferred Customer events.  They’re just a gimmick to get you into the store and give the retailer an opportunity to sell to you.  If you do attend one, remind the salesperson you’re a “preferred customer”. Tell them as a preferred customer you want special pricing below the advertised rates.  Chances are you’ll get a big fat NO.  If they’re willing to negotiate further then by all means take advantage of your preferred customer status : )

Sales Tactics
Preferred Customer is the 6th sales trick in the Sales Tactics Revealed series. Be sure to check out the first five if you haven’t already: Don’t Miss Out, You’ll Be Sorry, Buy Now, Pay Later, Rebate Ransom, and Sales Events.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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3 Responses to Preferred Customers Specials – Sales Tactic #6

  • Ben

    Victory, you make a good point. If you get discounts on any purchase, any time a preferred customer program can be of benefit to the consumer. You save money on things you were going to buy anyways.

    The problem arises when a retailer holds a “Preferred Customer” sale where the goal is to get you into the store to spend more money by offering “special discounts” that a lot of times aren’t all that great.

  • Victory

    I don’t think this is such a bad thing though if you’re smart enough. Like my school canteen does this with me on a small basis of course, like I can get 50c off drinks or food compared to the other people. Heck I’m an ‘exclusive’ credit customer. That’s right I get drinks and pay later.

    But I see how this can trap people into such offers which aren’t genuine.

  • Patrick

    I love this series. I find it fascinating how stores atteempt to part people from their money. It rarely works on me. I usually odn’t spend money unless it is for something I really need or want. But I think I am in the minority there. 😉