What is the greatest competitive advantage you have over your competition? Maybe you have several areas that you feel are a competitive advantages in the markets you serve. Ok, what are they? If I were to ask five people in your company what they were, would their answers be somewhat aligned, or all over the map? I don’t recommend you actually try this within your organization, as you may not be pleased 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 it in their purchasing criteria. You’ve seen it time and again where during a sales presentation the rep is talking about the things that they feel make them unique. Watching the facial expressions on the prospect, you learn quickly that while these areas of expertise may be important to the sales rep, they are not hitting home with this buyer. Through your discovery phase, understanding what might be meaningful and relevant 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
This is my quirky way of saying, take the time to learn what really matters to your customers, improve on how you deliver your value proposition, and try it all over again on your next opportunity. As Stephen Covey would say, this is the “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 might you learn if you reached out to your last five new customers? Select the ones that were not a referral or a past customer who just transferred to another company. Thank them for their business, and then ask them what was it that they heard, or perceived about your company that made them want to say yes. Try it, you have nothing to lose and will probably leave those sessions with a much better understanding of how folks think of your business.
Everyone Has a Coach
Selling is a contact sport. Just like in other contact sports, top performers have coaches. These coaches help them perform to their highest ability. If you are the sales leader or owner of a business that has a sales team, now is a good time to evaluate what kind of coaching your team is getting. Make the time to identify the best practices for how to leverage your competitive advantage in the markets you serve. Take these best practices and help your sales team become fully prepared. Provide them with the tools necessary to give them a competitive advantage in winning new business. And no, I don’t mean a shiny pocket folder that holds your equipment list!
I learned a long time ago that there are many ways to be a successful and effective sales person. Whatever formula you use, make sure to keep it meaningful and relevant, and position it in a way that the buyer will use it in their purchasing criteria. These are some ideas that I think are important, but what’s working for you? What are some of the ways that you’re delivering your competitive advantage message to the marketplace every time you step up to the plate? Please add your thoughts and comments below.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic advice, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Printing Impressions