(By James Bahm) Whether it’s in your industry or someone down the hall, every selling professional has a competitor. A quick search on Google for your industry in your city will return some of your competitors (a quick look at “media or marketing companies in Louisville” returned several pages of my competition). But then take a look at any other industry that may be calling on a business owner in a given week and it quickly adds up to a lot of salespeople.
Here are a few ways I’ve successfully stood out, got remembered, and set an appointment.
Deliver Relevant Information That’s Has Value!
Every seller worth their weight in coffee is well trained on their own products/services. Not too many are well trained in their clients’! Whenever you visit/call/email, have something relevant for them as pertains to their industry. (Remember: a feature is only a benefit if your client/prospect sees it as relevant to their need.)
Recently I came across an article related to auto insurance and how agents are using digital advertising to grow market share. I sent a link to the article to every insurance agent on my prospect list. The email had nothing to do with me, my stations, or my audience, but the entire focus was “I wanted you to see something I came across related to your industry…”
Make Visits About The Moment, Not Selling.
Every city has its own local holidays (Nevada Day and the Kentucky Derby/Derby Week are two of the big ones I’ve come across), in addition to the other major holidays. One thing I like to do is to take a prospect something to celebrate the moment. Bourbon Balls for Derby week, candy (good any time), or custom printed calendars in December.
Little tokens go a long way. Recently one of my colleagues was working with a new prospect whose child was under the weather. Their son loved one of our morning show hosts and my colleague had the host make a short “Get well soon” video and emailed it to their prospect. Something that took 30-seconds made a huge difference in someone’s life that had nothing to do with selling something.
Educate Your Client To Make Better Informed Decisions
Any purchase has both a price and a cost. I’ve worked in copier/printer sales and whenever I’d ask a business owner/decision-maker if they bought on price or cost, they’d most often reply with: “What’s the difference?” By educating them on how it related to my industry, I was able to gain more clients, because even though Xerox had a higher lease price, we usually had a much lower overall cost!
Today I work in media sales, and when I talk with prospects I’ll ask about their marketing and how it aligns to their advertising. And by showing that advertising is one of the many items that comprise marketing, I am able to present a total marketing solution that includes several components that go way beyond a cookie-cutter advertising special some of my competitors are dropping off.
And when I collaborate with my client and create something of value that addresses their specific needs, I make price (and the competition) irrelevant because I’m offering something they can’t get anywhere else — and you can, too!
Use What You Know
You are a wealth of knowledge, and your expertise is something that none of your competition has. Don’t be afraid to share your successes — and be sure to mention your failures, too. Allowing a client/prospect to see you as someone who’s made mistakes and learned from them will increase your credibility.
I know advertising and marketing. I know how to write good copy. I know how to craft an effective message that delivers value. As I share with my clients: a successful advertising campaign will rely on good marketing strategies (long-term, consistent messaging telling consumers why they should use you) and tactics (short-term items that give consumers a reason to use you now).
When you’re ready for a collaborative partner to help create effective, long-term marketing solutions based on your unique needs, please contact me.
Bottom Line: Show your clients how your expertise can improve their business and they’ll remember you for the value you delivered to their company.
Questions to ponder: How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors? Do you look for unique solutions to the individual problems your clients’ face, to make you stand out?
James Bahm is a 25-year broadcasting professional, an advertising and marketing resource, and owner of The Bahm Consulting.
(Author’s note: This column was originally published on LinkedIn)