Customer Experience News & Trends

7 ways to keep competitors from stealing your business

One of the key issues today is taking business away from the competition. What’s true for you is also true for your competitors.

If they want more business, it’s probably going to come out of your sales. That’s why it’s a good idea to take steps now to protect yourself from competitors who may come after your accounts. Even though this concept seems obvious, some salespeople aren’t prepared when competitors go after their accounts.

Here are seven approaches that provide you with the strategies you need to fend off the competition:

1. Gather customer information continuously. We work hard getting acquainted with customers and identifying their needs. But sometimes our learning stops as soon as we get the business. It’s not a good idea to assume we know everything we need to know about our customers.

“What’s happening to them? What changes are taking place? What problems are they facing? What difficulties are they encountering in the marketplace? What are their opportunities?”

If you don’t have current, up-to-the-minute answers to these questions, you can’t meet your customers’ needs. It’s this simple: Without answers, all you’re doing is reacting and putting out fires.

2. Never stop selling your company to your customer. To create customer loyalty, your customers must “buy” your company before they buy your products or services. If they’re just buying what you sell, chances are they won’t be doing business with you very long.

If your customer hasn’t made a commitment to do business with your company, you don’t have a customer. The major task of sales is to do everything possible to cause the customer to want to do business with your company.

3. Never assume tomorrow is going to be better than today. Some of us have a tendency to view the future as highly unpredictable, to assume that trouble lies around the corner. This sense of uncertainty can be useful because it drives us to ask questions like:

“What should we be doing now to make it difficult for a competitor to get a foothold?”

“What would happen if we lost our key customer?”

“What should we be doing today to stimulate new business two years from now?”

It’s only when we assume that tomorrow will automatically be better that we ignore the future.

4. Never take your customers for granted. Some salespeople talk about “owning a customer” or having a territory “locked up.”

That’s yesterday’s thinking. It’s what we continue to do for the customer that counts, not what we did last week or last year.

In today’s marketplace, maintaining high quality standards and making on-time deliveries isn’t enough. It’s not how we sell that counts. It’s our ideas, information, guidance and insight into our customer’s operation that earns us the privilege of doing business with them.

5. Never think that you’ve got all the business you need. There are some salespeople and businesses that honestly believe they have a lock on the market. This type of thinking leads to a false comfort level.

It’s these salespeople and businesses that are tops on a competitor’s hit list. They’re vulnerable because complacency has seeped into everything they do. Their customers being to sense it too -– it comes across as arrogance.

6. Don’t develop a reputation for only having the lowest price. As some point, any price-driven business is a candidate for trouble. If the lowest price is all you can offer customers, you’re sending a message that there’s no other reason to buy from your company. You’re simply a conduit for delivering a product or service.

If a customer is left with price as the only criterion for making a decision, someone else will come along and undercut your price in order to get their business.

7. Never, never stop worrying. Salespeople who think they have it all figured out deserve the worst – and they’ll eventually get it. Companies that have been in business for 50, 75 or even 100 years close their doors every day. Others are acquired, which may mean starting the sales process all over again.

Staying on top demands a high level of awareness of new ideas and concepts. Salespeople who think they’ve reached the pinnacle are often already going down the other side.

Adapted from Break The Rules Selling by John R. Graham ( Mr. Graham is the president of Graham Communications, Quincy, MA.  

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