Stu Schlackman

The Relationship Selling Expert - Building High-Performance Teams

Who's Your Biggest Competitor?







Harry Beckwith says in his book,
Selling to the Invisible: A Field Guide to Modern Marketing,
 

First, realize that indifference is about engagement.
As I read this new book on sales, I remembered a situation years ago when I was competing for a large IT project. 

After moving through the sales cycle we began to realize that we weren’t up against our usual competitors – it was the customer himself we had to worry about! Even though they had allocated 1.2 million dollars for the project, as it came down to decision making time, other departments were fighting for the same dollars for their own needs. 

If you’ve been in a similar position you know that when you’re fighting against internal priorities you’ve lost control.

If they are indifferent about your solution, you may be in trouble. The antidote? Make sure they are engaged enough to articulate the benefits of your products or services so that they can sell your solution and fend off the competition from other departments. 

Ask them, “What do you see as the benefits of this solution to your organization”? The better they can communicate the value, the more likely they are to choose you. Why?

We retain only 20% of what we hear and retain 70% of what we say – so, when they say it they retain it! Then when they pitch the CEO, they stand a much better chance of getting the funds.


Beckwith says that value is not a competitive position – it’s what you promise to deliver. And what are you promising to deliver? Will your solution increase revenues, decrease costs, increase market share or increase productivity? Will the customer see your impact and value as a must for their organization? Or is it something they can live without?

You need to articulate your value with benefit statements. End every feature statement of your solution with, “so that….” For example, “our new insurance benefits programs allow employees to go online and manage their account – so that your HR managers do not have to handle every change an employee wants to make, saving valuable hours each week needed for other HR functions.

You can’t assume that your prospects see the value of your solution – in reality they probably don’t. Value is only defined from their perspective and rarely do they take the time to see through your solution to find the value. 

Therefore, you must solicit their feedback to see if they truly understand the benefits. If they agree there will never be indifference and they will fight for the funds to buy your solution.

Remember that indifference disappears when you…

  1. Communicate your value;
  2. Help them get engaged;
  3. Make sure the customer can articulate the benefits of your solution

Arm your customers with this information and indifference will no longer be your biggest competitor.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering the end of my story…

That competition did delay the sale. But we understood that if we allowed our customer to become indifferent we would lose. Instead we helped them articulate the benefits and in the end, we won!

Here's To Your Sales!

Stu


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