Go get a pen and paper.
OK. Make a list of EVERYTHING that you claim about your company and product and service that your competition does NOT claim they do or have.
Go ahead, make a list. Nothing yet?
OK, OK. Name ONE THING that you claim to have, that your competition won’t claim they have…
Great quality? They claim that.
Great service? They claim that too.
Great delivery? They claim that too.
Great people? They claim that too.
You say tomato, I say tomahto – but the prospect perceives the same thing.
Here are a few painful questions:
If the customer does not perceive a difference, the salesperson thinks the answer is (all that’s left is) “price.” And “price” is ALWAYS the wrong answer.
If you sell lowest price, there is no loyalty. It’s a transaction, not a sale. And the next salesperson who stumbles in one penny lower takes your commission away. Lowest price also means lowest profit.
MAJOR CLUE: If you’re having difficulty in making business relationships it means you aren’t distinguishable enough to earn a chance.
“Rats, Jeffrey”, you say, “How do I get different?”
There are answers, and they require some hard work. BUT, if you’re willing to work at it, I can guarantee long-term victory.
Here are the answers:
ANSWER ONE: The difference is the prospect’s perception of YOU as a person. The salesperson is the first sale made. If they don’t buy the difference in you, you have no chance for the rest.
ANSWER TWO: The difference is the prospect’s perceived “higher value” in dealing with you. The higher the perceived value, the less price matters. If the prospect perceives the product as relatively the same, then value creation both in the front of the sale and after the sale are the only true differentiators.
ANSWER TWO POINT FIVE: The difference is creativity. At the core of differentiation is the science of creativity, and your free time to brainstorm the possibilities, either alone or in a group of peers.
Everyone says to be creative you gotta “think outside the box.” And everyone is wrong. To master creativity, I recommend you start by thinking INSIDE the box first.
Inside the box? What’s that supposed to mean? Easy, to learn the science of being different start with the obvious. If your everyday communications are just like your competitors, why should they believe you when you say “we’re different!?”
There are many opportunities to be perceived as different. Here are four BIG ones:
1. You, the salesperson and your ability to be perceived as different through your daily actions, communications and ability to create value for the prospect.
2. The creative sales approach you take. How you present your product or service – the difference the prospect perceives between you and the others he has seen.
3. The ordinary (daily) expressions of business. How you greet, message, web, and brochure yourselves.
4. Customer communications and actions in service areas. When something goes wrong, differentiation is the key element. You may know it as the WOW! factor, but with all the lousy service these days, just something “above-mediocre” will get attention. And if you don’t think that great service can make a difference in the growth and profitability of a company, call Dillard’s and ask them about Nordstrom. Call BMW and ask them about Lexus.
OK, OK so, Jeffrey, how do we differentiate?
Here are 15.5 “inside the box” actions you should change today. The test here is; will what you do be talked about after the impression passes? Will anyone say – “Hey look at this, you gotta see this!” or, “You gotta hear this!” If no one is saying anything, it’s a dud – and so are you.
Be different in the comfort of your office:
1. Your voice mail message is dull. Sharpen it. Are you either on your phone or away from your desk? Are you telling people what day of the week it is? Is the message on your VM great of average? Get great.
2. Your office greeting and phone transfer. Are your people friendly? Is a computer answering your phone and making your customer mad before he gets to you? Does it transferring people to voice mail hell? Offer options before you transfer a call.
3. After hours messaging. Is it fun? Does it page someone? Do you direct me to your website for action? Or does it just say, “We’re closed, duh.”
4. Your fax cover sheet. Fun, informative or dud? Is it worth showing to someone else?
5. Ease of ordering or doing business with you. Call your office and try to place an order. Try to get a salesperson. Try to get yourself. After hours ordering? (ouch)
6. Eat, drink, and be merry. Your office coffee. Your snacks and in-house food. Serve the best, not the cheapest.Be different in your corporate communication:
7. The save-ability of your literature. Is your info all about you or is it information the prospect will keep because it’s valuable? Useful information gets passed around. All info about you finds it’s way into the trash.
8. Change your business card. Now. Fast. “I can’t,” you whine, “The company provides them this way. Just print “SEE OTHER SIDE” on your card or change your title to something fun or compelling. Is your prospect showing it to someone else because it’s so cool? Get cool.
9. Are your ads bragging or proof? Advertising is great if you use testimonials to tell your story. Most people just brag about themselves. Pity.
10. The front page of your website. Is the information on it about the customer, or all about you? We-we websites get one visit. Creative websites attract word-of-mouth advertising and return visits (or the ultimate victory: “bookmarked”). Catch fire in the heat of the sale:
11. Opening cold call line failing? Ask for the sales department instead of your normal “I’d like to speak to the person in charge of…” drivel. Salespeople will tell you everything, direct you to the right person, and help you open the door.
12. Change the opening of your sales presentation. Start with a series of questions and ideas. Don’t give your name or card until you have stimulated so much interest that the prospect says, “Who are you?”
13. Reverse the messages you leave for others. Ask questions about their issues, give two great facts and get them to call you for the third. Is the current message you leave for others all about them or about the money you want from them?
14. Follow-up after a sales call or a proposal submission with value not insincerity. “I’m calling to see if you have any questions.” Whenever someone says that to me I ask them who won the world series in 1984. They rarely know, but always laugh. (Baltimore Orioles). Stop calling people to find out how your money is doing. Offer information that is valuable. Show them you have ideas and enthusiasm for THEIR stuff, not just yours.
15. How are you staying in front of a customer after (between) sales? How about an e-mailed tip of the week? Something that helps THEM.
Tell me (show me) you love me:
15.5 Customers want an initial feeling of warmth. What feeling do you give? How are calls answered at your place? If a computer answers your phone, everything I have said is worthless until you rip that device out of the wall. EVERYONE HATES when a computer answers the phone, and the trend is to return to the human “hello.” Your friendliness (or lack of it) will determine your future.
At the core of differentiation is the science of creativity, and your free time to brainstorm the possibilities – either alone or in a group of peers.
Free GitBit… Want the three biggest lost opportunities to differentiate and distinguish yourself from your competition? Go to www.gitomer.com and click Free Stuff, then click GitBit. Register (if you’re a first time user) and enter the secret word, DIFFERENT in the GitBit box.
Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/333-1112 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org