Walking into a car dealership many years ago, I was ready for a transaction with value. What I found though proved different. It was near impossible to get anyone to talk to me! When someone eventually came over, his first question to me was ‘So what do you want’? Being a little taken back at the attitude and overwhelming desire to be unhelpful I responded with ‘a car’.
He then asked how much I had to spend and when I would be buying. He offered me no value and he didn’t ask any questions to uncover what I wanted or needed. To his credit, neither did the other two dealerships I went to.
As a buyer, this experience pushed me to do my own research. On my own I discovered exactly what would fit my needs, including colours and features. I then emailed those specifications and requirements to every Dealer in Melbourne. I asked that they not phone me but simply submit their best offer. To this day this is how I have purchased cars.
As a sales professional I don’t want to assume I have earned the right to sit at a decision makers table. If a potential customer has taken the time to welcome me into their business, I should be respectful enough to bring the value.
I was reminded of this as I went to see a business contact recently with my service offering. This person has given his business to the same company for 10-15 years and has never had the need to leave. He has no dissatisfaction with the product. And he has never experienced a different service provider, so he is loyal. He bases his loyalty to this company on this: He has never had any other experience with a competitor.
How then, do I, as a competitor, convince him to make the change for change sake?
The answer to this actually lies in a question this customer asked me. As I presented my proposal he queried:
“What is the one thing that you want me to focus on that differentiates you from your competitors?”
Great question. Here’s what I learnt from the question:
Naturally I believe I can offer a far superior product and service. The customer may not appreciate or care about the product differences.
What makes you stand out then? How are you different?
I can tell you, in short, how I answered. My answer had nothing to do with the actual product I sell.
Here is what differentiates my business/service from the competitor:
We will always be available to our customers through myself or my team. Our Customer Experience Manager position is intentional. This person is the first port of call for our customers needing to talk about machines, accounts, challenges, tips, tricks and services.
We have a commitment to consistency. If we tell you we will do something? We will do it. If we can’t do something? We will tell you.
We will endeavour in all situations to have you speak to a human being. Someone real. Someone that is helpful. Someone that has compassion. We don’t run from mistakes, we fix them.
All three of the above points, come down to one core business value of mine – relationship. This is my difference. Yours may have no resemblance. The point?
Communicate your point of difference CLEARLY and SPECIFICALLY.
Be ready to offer your value above and beyond the product.
If what you say doesn’t align with what you deliver you can promise everything in the world to the customer, but you will soon disappoint. There is already too much over-promising and under-delivering in my industry. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Simple. Buyers can sniff out non-genuineness from a mile away.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the matter.