(By Lisa Thal) Let’s face it: in sales, it’s all about the numbers. You either exceed your budgets or fall short. You win the business, or your competition does. Some salespeople will rise to the occasion, and others will fall short due to lack of focus, effort, or preparation. The successful salespeople tend to focus on what it will take to win the business. They know the necessary steps they must take.
There is a myth that lowering your rates and price will bring in the business. In some cases, the client will be focused only on price, but there is more to the sale than that. Shift your focus to providing results and real value to the advertiser.
I started to think about what it takes for companies to dominate their competitors. The core strategy behind any company that dominates its competition and creates customer loyalty is to anticipate and meet its customers’ needs in a way that no one else does. Your competition may offer a product or service that claims to do what you offer. They are commodities, but your offer is unique. You have differentiated yourself by helping your customers solve their specific problems in bold ways. This is the key to making sure no one else in your industry comes close. It’s not just about being different, it’s about providing so much value that your customers tell others about you — with enthusiasm and excitement.
Here are five keys to earning the business and dominating your competitors.
1. See the business through the owner’s and customer’s eyes. Google gives us a great platform to research any business category and the trends related to that industry. The real advantage is in taking that information to the next level. When was the last time you asked the client to walk you through the business as they see it? How do they visualize what they offer the customer? What advantages and disadvantages are they facing? Ask for a tour of the company so you can see all phases of their operation. Next, what insights can you learn from seeing the business from the customer’s point of view? The more information you can learn from that experience, the better the strategy you can create for the client.
2. Deliver more than you promise. Once the sale has closed, your competition may start to target that account to convince them to switch. You will need to provide more value than they expected to retain the relationship you have created. Yes, building trust and developing a strong relationship with the client is critical. Surprise and delight them with added value, and they will reciprocate by sharing stories of your terrific service with their friends and contacts — who are then primed to become your next customers.
3. Move your customers to a better place. Meeting minimum requirements is one way to run your business, and it’s a sure route to failure. Everyone must be committed to doing whatever it takes to make sure your customers are your biggest fans. What companies come to mind when you think of those that move you? Nordstrom, Amazon, and Apple all inspire lifetime loyalty. You must create a structure and a system that allows you to consistently meet and exceed your customers’ needs. Create a system that works for your client to track their progress. It can be a weekly or bi-weekly call or meeting to see how you can support them, or they may have sudden recruitment needs you can assist them with.
4. Reward your best customers. Remember, the most expensive thing you can do as a business is acquire a new customer. It requires most of your time, energy, and money, and it is one of the hardest things to do. Therefore, the easiest way to make additional money is to continue to better serve the customers you already have. They get your best offers and undivided attention to ensure that you don’t lose them to low-priced competitors.
5. Continually ask them what they want. Innovation is essential today. Your business must continue to evolve to effectively meet your customers’ needs in unique and powerful ways. If it doesn’t, then you can be certain that someone else will rise to that challenge. So how will you evolve? Ask your customers what their biggest challenge is and why it is important that they find a solution, then figure out how to help them in unique ways that they can’t help but share with others.
Remember, your biggest competition is you! You have everything you need to help solve your clients’ challenges. Start today, with a new perspective on how you will approach your business.
Lisa Thal is the general sales manager for Hubbard Interactive Cincinnati. She’s also the author of Three Word Meetings: A Simple Strategy to Engage, Inspire and Empower Your Team. Get it on Amazon.com.