With whom do you prefer doing business?
My friend, Bob Burg says that all things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, people they know, like and trust. Applying the methodology he teaches in his best selling book Endless Referrals was a true turning point in my sales career. Building a referral network makes everything a sales person does more efficient and more profitable.
But what do you do in those situations where you are developing new prospects that were not referred?
The answer is that you find ways to make your value proposition greater than your competition.
I know everyone out there fully believes that your company and your product is the very best available. If you don’t, you should consider changing to a company and product you can believe in. However, in the process of converting a cold lead into a hot client, you need to see things through your prospect’s eyes. Use the following as a frame of reference:
- In your prospect’s eyes, your company is no different from your competitors.
- In your prospect’s eyes, your product can be gotten from many sources.
- In your prospect’s eyes, you are no different than the ten other sales people who contacted them earlier this week.
The price your customer pays for the product or service you provide is purely transactional. They get equal value from your product that they give you in payment. Whether you are a realtor, an insurance agent, a car sales person or a dentist – there are many other people who can provide the same product or service at a similar price. Unless you change that perception, you have no competitive edge.
Every minute that your prospect still believes those perceptions to be true is a minute where you will be viewed as a commodity. That hampers your position because commodities get traded based on price. If you are not the lowest priced provider of what you do, you have to establish why you, your company and your product are worth the difference.
There may be times when your prospect already has a favorable opinion of your company. When that happens, you are obviously ahead of the game. However, you should always operate as if these three perceptions are solidly entrenched in their mind, and handle each of them in your conversations and presentations.
In changing your prospect’s perception – don’t be shy. Bring each of those points out and lay them directly on the table. Then, one by one, establish your key differences and show them why you and your company are the right choice for them.
Change how they view you and your company. Move from a transaction provider to a valued partner. Do that by asking the right questions that will get them talking about their specific needs; then show them how you add value – linking that value to the specific points they discussed.
Walk them through these three points:
- Establish what your company brings in value added services that will return more to them than they pay for the actual product.
- Establish what your product or service does that brings greater value than others in the marketplace. If you are selling the exact same product as your competitors establish how your company stands behind the process better.
- Establish what you bring to the table that gives them more than they are paying for. Think creatively on this one and have several bits of lagniappe that you can provide.
Most importantly, link all of the above to how doing business with you and your company is going to add value and make their life better, either on a professional basis or a personal basis – sometimes both. When you do so, they will consider you a partner and trusted member of their team. Then when the next sales person comes by selling the same or a similar product, they will receive a polite, “Thanks, but we have that covered.”
As a sales professional, what value do you add to your prospects and customers that is totally above that which your company or product provides?
I read a great post by Nancy Anderson on being creative in this area.