A week ago, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review that found that only 2 percent of the companies are able to communicate their differentiating factors to their prospects and customers. The inability to articulate what make your company unique runs the risk of positioning your company as a commodity. When a company cannot educate a prospect or a customer on the value they provide a client above and beyond the competition, the only thing that differentiates your company is the fatal one: price. If the only thing you can compete on is price, then you will begin to see margin erosion and a lot of turnover in your customer base. The content below is how to differentiate you company so that you can stop competing on price and start competing on value.
Simplification in Marketing
The most successful companies are those that have a clear, competitive advantage that they repeat continuously to get their message out to the buying public. It is simple, direct, clear, and benefit-oriented. The more simple your claim for your product or service, your unique selling proposition, the easier it is for you to build a marketing and sales campaign around it.
During the business boom in Silicon Valley and the huge infusion of venture capital into dot-com companies, the “elevator pitch” became famous. There were thousands of small companies running around trying to raise money to get started. The venture capitalists with the money were swamped with applications. By one estimate, for every thousand applications a venture capital company received, they considered only one hundred. Of the hundred they considered, they studied only ten. Of the ten proposals they studied, they funded only one. The odds of getting financing were very low.
Budding entrepreneurs with new ideas had to condense the essence of their businesses into an “elevator talk” that they would be able to give in a matter of two or three minutes on the elevator from the main office to the ground floor. This elevator talk had to define the potential market, identify the problem that the product or service would solve, spell out the unique selling proposition or special benefit of this particular product or service, and give the market size and financial results possible if this product were successful. All this information had to be conveyed in two to three minutes.
What is your elevator talk? How could you summarize the benefits and value of what you sell, and why someone should buy it, in two or three minutes? What is your value offering? Why should someone buy your product or service in comparison with every other product or service that is available?
Here’s a question for you: “What must your prospective customer be convinced of in order to buy your product or service rather than that of any other competitor?”
How can you simplify and focus your advertising, marketing, and sales activities in such a way that you could convince your prospect overwhelmingly that she will get what she wants most from your product or service if she buys it from you?
Simplicity in Selling
In the last fifty years, more than 4,000 books have been written on the subject of selling. Many of them are hundreds of pages long and full of complex strategies, tactics, formulas, methods, and techniques. However, they can all be broken down into three key elements. They are: (1) Prospect; (2) Present; and (3) Follow up and close.
1. Prospecting. This is the beginning of the sales process and the most important part. If you have enough qualified prospects in the front end of your sales pipeline, you will almost inevitably get enough completed sales out of the other end of the pipeline.
A prospect is defined as “someone who can and will buy and pay for your product or service within a reasonable period of time.”
A prospect is not someone who likes you or what you sell. It is someone who has the money, the need, and the authority to buy what you sell, combined with an intense desire to enjoy the benefits of your offering as soon as possible.
A good prospect is someone who likes and respects you and your company, wants and needs what you are selling, has the money and the power to make a buying decision, and is ready to move ahead with the buying decision as quickly as possible.
2. Presenting. Presenting is the inner game of selling. Your ability to establish rapport and trust, identify the true problem or needs of the prospect, and then show the prospect that your product or service is, all things considered, the ideal solution for him is the key to sales success.
The good news is that all sales skills are learned. Some of the highest paid and most successful salespeople in the world today could at one time not sell their way across the street. But they settled down and studied selling and the sales profession. They learned the critical skills. They memorized the right questions to ask and the correct responses to customer concerns and objections. They planned their work and worked their plan. As a result, they got better and better, and eventually they sold more and more.
The more of your product you sell, the easier it becomes for you to sell even more of it. You become more knowledgeable and skilled about the sales process. You become more familiar with the most common concerns of the prospects you speak to. Soon you learn how to identify and isolate a good prospect in a few seconds of conversation. You learn how to identify the “hot buttons” of a particular prospect and focus your presentation on satisfying the most important needs he has.
3. Follow Up and Close. In golf they say, “You drive for show but you putt for dough.” In sales, you prospect and pre- sent for show, but you close for dough. Your ability to over-come the final objections and then get the customer to take action on your offer is the critical part of modern selling.
Take the time to think through and identify your ideal customer, based on the benefits you sell and the needs you satisfy. Use your creativity and imagination to find more and more of these ideal prospects. Learn how to present your product persuasively so that your prospect considers you and your company to be the ideal choice. Finally, learn how to ask for the order and get the customer to make a buying decision.
The more of these three tasks you perform, and the better you get at each one, the simpler and easier selling will be for you, and the more money you will earn.