Customer Experience News & Trends

The best way to give yourself a competitive advantage

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, the differences between your products or services and a competitor’s offerings are usually slight, so it’s difficult to win the sale by focusing on features or benefits only. 

Instead, the best way to give yourself a competitive advantage is by demonstrating that you have some understanding of what’s important to the buyer.

Opening with an elevator pitch about your company or product may put you in a weak position, unless it’s much more focused on addressing buyers’ problems, issues and concerns.

You are important

You are as important as the product or service you’re selling. What customers really want is to gain a comfort level that comes from a set of intangible benefits that go beyond a sterile listing of features and benefits.

Buyers want to know they are dealing with someone who cares about their longer-term success, and they want to feel comfortable that you have the depth and perspective to help them make the right choice.

Whether or not a buyer chooses to deal with you has a lot to do with how you choose to deal with them.

Establish rapport

The ability to establish rapport is the most important skill to practice when meeting with new prospects. Establishing rapport doesn’t mean talking too much or too fast. The ability to bond with prospects is what makes a salesperson a good communicator.

Some techniques for establishing rapport don’t work, because they’re me-focused, not you-focused. The best way to establish rapport is to show genuine interest in the buyer, listening for problems before offering solutions.

Listening to the buyer carefully is far more effective than trying to guide the conversation through a preplanned pattern.

Test your introductions

Write down the first thought that comes to mind as you answer these five questions:

  1. What’s the most unusual aspect of what you sell? Try to think about several customer examples and the results you deliver.
  2. What does your product or service deliver that the competition’s doesn’t? Try to come up with an example of a customer who chose you because of specific benefits.
  3. What is your most interesting customer story? Pick one that will leave the buyer spellbound.
  4. What is your most exciting story? Tell a positive story about how you had to deliver under pressure.
  5. What is your most dramatic story? Try to come up with an example of a sale that helped a customer solve a difficult problem.

Core beliefs

Here are three core beliefs of top sellers:

  1. A sales presentation should always be a dynamic conversation. It should not be a speech or a monologue. Try to make it organized and include an opening, a body and a close. Use the opening to capture and hold the buyer’s attention. Use probing or sensitive questions to learn about your prospect’s needs and concerns. It’s better to engage prospects slowly, guiding them through encouraging dialogue. Non-threatening questions build rapport and set the buyer at ease. After you establish a comfort level, you can shift to more specific questions.
  2. Use the body of a presentation to make points about features and benefits. When answering questions, try to keep them short and simple. Think for a moment before you speak. Ask if your response has been adequate before trying to make another point.
  3. Use the close to reemphasize key points. Look for signals that the prospect may still have unanswered questions. It’s not a good idea to try to close before all areas of confusion have been addressed.

Adapted from: “Sell Yourself First,” by Thomas Freese, founder of QBS Research, Inc. He widely considered to be one of the foremost authorities on sales effectiveness and competitive positioning strategies.

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