We all want to keep our competition out of our business, but we need to do more than wish to make it happen. Showing what we’re worth and getting it is a process that can keep your competition out. It’s like buying “customer insurance.” (If only we could!) You make it harder for your competitor to steal your business by raising the value bar and documenting what you do. Your competition may then have to do like the bad guys and look for easier places to rob when the first place is secure.
What are you worth? Your worth is determined by your customer and what he finds valuable. Most customers have too much to do and too little time to get it accomplished. What can you do for your customer to help him simplify his job, avoid problems or help him meet his goals? You become a known valued resource by bringing information to your customer about competition, changing industry trends, or technology. Competition can claim they bring value, but you’re a known quantity and they are not. Change can be very undesirable to customers (and less likely) if they like what they have.
What can you do for your customer? Your job is more than just selling a product. Look for areas where your product’s [or service’s] performance impacts your customer’s business. One area is to function as a liaison between an OEM and your customer. I had a customer with a warranty claim on a transmission and the OEM denied fault. My company had done research using the transmissions and found elevated temperatures were causing premature failures. When I provided the research conclusions, my customer went back to the OEM and received coverage on the failures previously denied. We also were able to recommend an alternative product. The savings we documented from this problem were about $30,000. My competition never got into this account even with cutting their prices.
Is doing business with your company sometimes a challenge for your customer? Ask your customer to describe the barriers between him and your company. Help your customer avoid them or take them on yourself. (Billing errors come to mind!) Ask your customers what projects they are working on. You can assist them to meet their goals. If a customer is working on a project involving data with your product, your sales data can be more current and easily obtained for your customer.
Take the hassle out of their work. You first have to know what their hassles are, so ask! This is where you get to use your listening skills and show your customer you want to hear where you can help.
Teach what you know. One of the most effective ways to learn is to teach another person what you know. We learn at training seminars, from the books and newspapers we read, and from our customers. Think of the value you bring to a customer who doesn’t have the time to learn, but knows that you will share your knowledge with him. Explaining new information to someone else reinforces your learning.
It’s important to get credit for what you do. Remember to look and ask for ways to help. Get credit for what you do by writing it down and presenting it!
Reprinted with permission from Strategic Selling. Copyright Maura Schreier-Fleming