Customer Experience News & Trends

Sure-fire way to give yourself a competitive advantage

Companies can no longer count on their product or service to sell itself, because their toughest competitors are out there with similar products and claims. It’s the person representing a product or service (or company) that has a greater influence over the customer’s perception of value than the product itself.

The difference between your solutions or offerings and a competitor’s products may be very slight, which makes it difficult to win the sale just by focusing on product features and company benefits.

What prospects want

Prospects aren’t looking for a sterile listing of features and benefits when meeting with salespeople. They usually look for a comfort level that comes from a set of intangible benefits that don’t show up in brochures or canned presentations. The prospect’s perception of your value is equal to the benefits of your product or service, plus the intangibles you bring to the table.

When products are similar and services converge, relationships may be your best differentiating variable. A prospect’s decision will likely come down to whichever salesperson offers the best service, is the most responsive, or displays intangible attributes, such as credibility, expertise, helpfulness and integrity.

What makes you stand out from competitors has everything to do with the prospects’ perception of what you bring to the table in terms of your capability, professionalism, creativity, preparedness and responsiveness with regards to their needs.

Positioning yourself to win

The big challenge is positioning yourself to win given that your competitors are likely to be formidable and the sale could be won or lost by a slim margin. Somehow you want to find a way to separate yourself from the competition and have customers form a positive impression about the value you bring to the table.

It’s important to offer enough intangibles to tip the scales in your favor, whether you’re up against a competitor or the prospect is considering the option of doing nothing and maintaining the status quo.

Translate intangibles into benefits

Helping prospects identify needs they otherwise would not have considered is an excellent way to make them perceive substantially more value from you than from your competitors.

If a prospect has nine reasons to purchase your product or service, but only two reasons to go with a competitor, you’ll be in a much stronger position to close the sale. The possibilities are limitless: faster service, educating customers on unique features, better delivery, more information and nipping problems in the bud are a few examples of intangibles that may tip the sale in your favor.

Adapted from the book “Sell Yourself First,” by Thomas Freese, the founder and president of QBA Research, Inc., and one of the foremost authorities on sales effectiveness.

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