Just the other day I was looking at the possibility of purchasing a new vehicle. After talking to salespeople at five different automotive dealerships and taking one test ride, I was shocked. I was shocked at how quickly each one of the sales
consultants defaulted to price during our discussion.
Afterwards I checked with the Kelly Blue Book vehicle pricing averages for the model I wanted, and each of them was in the range of medium to high. But quite frankly, after trying to assess which one to consider, not one of the sales consultant’s and their dealership stood out as having any differential advantage. No one had any kind of a distinguishing value that made them more desirable for me to want to do business with them.
This is a common problem for most small businesses. When a potential client looks at your business, you must have a differential advantage if you want to be able to dramatically increase your odds of earning that sale. If you can do this you will market your small business more successfully and profitably. Many small business consultants do not clearly understand this concept. So let me explain it to you here and now.
So, what is it that could make your company stand out from your many competitors? It has to be something that allows you to be better than your competition.
When I work with my clients in helping them develop their differential advantage, we explore the ways that will help them stand out differently. Some of them include how they can be:
• easier and more convenient with which to do business
• more skillful
• more thorough
• more flexible
• the biggest
• most accessible
• able to have the best hours
• 24/7/365 help availability
Other ways they could stand out would be if they could have:
• more expertise
• more specific knowledge
• better equipment
• nicer facility
• friendlier staff
• a more pleasant purchase 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 it clearly and succinctly. 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 must be able to communicate your differential advantage in a persuasive and memorable way. The use of an illustration, story, demonstration or an analogy can help people see and feel the difference between you and your competitors.
Too often small business owners, their salespeople and their staff do not think this last point through. They do not take the time to really organize their thoughts and literally memorize how they will communicate what makes their company’s services or products uniquely special and different from the competition.
You will notice that in the last paragraph I included your “staff” as part of your sales team. To communicate this point to your employees is critical to the success of your small business. That is, everyone is in sales. It does not matter who the person at your company is. It doesn’t matter if the person is a secretary, accountant, janitor or maintenance person. Everyone must be able to communicate how your company can help your prospects and clients get what they need and want from the services and products of your company.
Look around and ask yourself, who is your competition? What makes your company better than they are? How can it be explained in such a way that it is convincing? How can you and your team show the kind of value that is important to your prospects? How can it be presented with pizzazz and conviction?
As Elmer Wheeler, one of the forefathers of the sales process use to say, “Sell the sizzle not the steak.” In other words, communicate how your product or service will absolutely solve your prospect’s needs and wants. Remember they all listen to the radio station WII-FM – WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
When you are able to help you and your team do this, you will be on your way to making 2012 one of the most profitable and productive years to date.
Give me a call, if you would like to talk about how I can help your company develop its’ differential advantage.
Tom Borg is a business expert who works with small and mid-size companies to improve customer acquisition and retainment. He can be reached at 734-404-5909, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his website at www.tomborgconsulting.com
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