The other day I was considering purchasing a new vehicle. After talking to salespeople at five different automotive dealerships and taking one test drive, I was shocked at how quickly each one of the sales consultants defaulted to price during our discussion.
Afterward, I checked with the Kelly Blue Book vehicle pricing averages for the model I wanted, and each of the dealerships was in the range of medium to high.
But quite frankly, after trying to assess where to make my purchase, not one of the sales consultants nor their dealerships stood out as having a differential advantage. Not one had any kind of a distinguishing value that made it more desirable for me to do business with them.
Let’s take a look at three strategies that can prevent you from making the same mistake these salespeople made.
No. 1 Get across what it is that makes your company different, unique and better than your competitors. This is not easy for most green industry businesses to identify. But when a potential client looks at your business, you must display a strong differential advantage if you want to dramatically increase your odds of earning that sale.
Look around and ask yourself, who are my competitors? What makes my company better than theirs? How can our services and products be explained in a convincing way? How can my team and I demonstrate the kind of value that is important to our prospects? How can our case be presented with pizazz and conviction?
So, what is it that makes your company stand out from your many competitors? It has to be something about your company, a quality or a way of doing things that makes you better than the competition.
When I work with my green industry clients helping them develop their differential advantage, we explore all the ways they could stand out from the rest of the pack. Ways, like being:
• easier and more convenient with which to do business;
• more skillful;
• more thorough;
• more flexible;
• the largest company in the area;
• the most accessible;
• the one with the best hours;
• the one with 24/7/365 help availability; and
• the one with a strong guarantee for its products and services.
They’d also stand out if they could offer:
• more expertise;
• more specific knowledge;
• better equipment;
• a nicer facility;
• a friendly, courteous staff;
• clean, attractive uniforms;
• clean, well-maintained company vehicles;
• professional-looking business cards;
• an attractive and memorable logo;
• a meaningful and memorable slogan; and
• a more pleasant purchasing experience.
As management consultant Nido Qubein recommends, “You must be able to meet your prospect’s needs better than anyone else or in a way others cannot.”
Not only must you have a clear differential advantage, you must be able to explain that advantage clearly and succinctly to your prospects. If they don’t understand what you do better than your competitors, they won’t be convinced. I cannot emphasize this last point enough. You and your team must be able to communicate your differential advantage in a persuasive and memorable way. The use of an illustration, story, demonstration or analogy can help people see and feel the difference between you and the other guys.
Too often green industry business owners, their foremen, salesmen and staff members fail to think this last point through. They don’t take the time to really organize their thoughts and literally memorize how they will communicate what it is that makes their company’s services or products uniquely special and different from all the rest.
No. 2 Use risk reversal. In his outstanding book, “Your Secret Wealth,” marketing expert Jay Abraham suggests that people will purchase more quickly and more often when they’re given something he calls “risk reversal” — in other words, a solid, 100 percent guarantee. It’s one of the main keys to winning initial and return business. Simply stated, your prospects and clients want to have the assurance that what they purchase from your company is going to provide them with what they want and need. This is nothing less than what you and I would expect were we to purchase a product or service from someone else.
The eminent psychologist Abraham Maslow identified a hierarchy of needs that every human being shares. One of the most basic is the need for safety and security. When we openly promote our guarantee to clients and prospects, we meet this elemental need and eliminate their fear of not getting what they paid for; we reverse their risk.
As Abraham explains, most companies typically offer a guarantee, but many times it’s not written down nor verbalized to potential buyers. The absence of this communication creates doubt that the service or product will perform the way the company says it will. But having a strong guarantee — and communicating that you have it — can increase your purchase rate from 10 to 70 percent.
If you don’t have a guarantee, write one up that you feel comfortable with and try it out. After 30 days, evaluate it, measure the results, then tweak it. The key is to come up with a guarantee that you can uphold. By doing so, you will improve the perceived quality of what you’re promising to deliver and increase the expectation of satisfaction to your potential customers.
No. 3 Make sure everyone in your company knows they’re part of the sales team. Communicating this to your employees is critical to the success of your small business. It doesn’t matter what role the person at your company fills; secretary, foreman or frontline hourly worker, everyone who works for you must be able to communicate how your company can help your valued prospects and clients get what they need and want from your services and products.
As Elmer Wheeler, one of the forefathers of the sales process used to say, “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.” In other words, communicate how your product or service will absolutely serve your prospect’s needs and wants. Remember, they’re all asking the same question: “What’s in it for me?”
When you’re able to employ all three of these strategies, you’ll be on your way to making this year one of the most profitable and productive years you’ve ever had.
Tom Borg is a team performance and customer experience expert who works with small businesses and organizations in the green industry to improve customer acquisition and retention. He helps these organizations through his consulting, speaking, training and mentoring. He can be reached at 734.404.5909 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tomborgconsulting.com.