What is the biggest competitive advantage you have over your competition? Maybe you have some areas that you think are a competitive advantage in the markets you serve. Ok, what are they? If I asked five people in your company what they were, would their answers be somewhat consistent or all over the map? I do not recommend trying this within your own organization, as you may not be satisfied with the results. For the sake of this conversation, let’s focus on the competitive advantages that allowed you to win your best customers.
Your strengths only become a competitive advantage if the buyer includes them in their buying criteria. You’ve seen it time and time again where during a sales presentation the rep talks about the things they think make them unique. By watching the customer’s facial expressions, you quickly learn that while these areas of expertise may be important to the sales rep, they are not getting to this buyer. Through your discovery phase, understanding what might be meaningful and important to a buyer will help you best position your strengths as a true competitive advantage. I often refer to this as connecting the dots.
Lather, Rinse and Repeat
That’s my quirky way of saying: take the time to learn what really matters to your customers, improve the way you deliver your value proposition, and try it again at your next opportunity. As Stephen Covey would say, this is “sharpening the saw”, part of the exercise.
The best way I know to really understand what matters to your customers is to ask them. What can you learn if you contact your last five new customers? Select those that were not a referral or a past client who just moved to another company. Thank them for their business and then ask them what it was they heard or perceived about your company that made them want to say yes. Give it a try, you’ve got nothing to lose and you’ll probably leave those sessions with a much better understanding of how people think about your business.
Everyone has a coach
Selling is a contact sport. As in other contact sports, top performers have coaches. These coaches help them perform at their highest abilities. If you are a sales leader or the owner of a business that has a sales team, now is a good time to evaluate what type of training your team is receiving. Take the time to identify best practices on how to leverage your competitive advantage in the markets you serve. Take these best practices and help your sales team be fully prepared. Give them the tools they need to give them a competitive edge in winning new business. And no, I don’t mean a shiny pocket folder that holds your gear list!
I learned a long time ago that there are many ways to be a successful and effective salesperson. Whatever formula you use, make sure you keep it meaningful and relevant and position it in a way that the buyer will use it in their buying criteria. These are some ideas that I think are important, but what works for you? What are some of the ways you are delivering your message of competitive advantage to the market every time you step up to the plate? Please add your thoughts and comments below.
Mike Philie can help validate what is working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by offering straightforward and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice an unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and hands-on approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at [email protected].