This series of tips is designed to help you differentiate yourself from the competition when everyone claims to be offering the best/cheapest/most expert service.
So how do you differentiate your business and sell your services when there are a lot of other businesses that do what you do and sell what you sell? Start by finding the right people to sell to, get your act together, then put together some good supporting materials, among other things. It’s really a “total package” deal, and here’s just one more step you can take closer to wiping the competition off the map.
Tip # 8: Don’t Sell Your Services
Ok, what? Sounds like a glaring contradiction, but it’s not. Unless you’re in the business of competing on price (ahem… never a good idea) then it’s not your service that you’re really selling. And unless you have a unique service that out of all the billions of people on the planet only you can provide, then you’re also not really selling your service.
Plenty of people are financial planners, electrical engineers and interior designers. A customer could choose to do business with anyone, anytime and there’s plenty of competition to choose among.
If you want a customer to choose you, then you need to change your focus.
Sell Your Brand
What you’re really selling is your brand.
Your brand is not about your logo or your corporate colors, but about the connection you make with customers, the culture you encourage, the values you represent and a whole lot more.
Your brand is the totality of your business, and somewhere in there are your services. Brand builds loyalty and loyalty builds a customer base that uses your services not because you’re the cheapest offer on the block, but because they identify with you in a way that they don’t with another business.
Look at what a company like Apple has done with a brand. Love ’em or hate ’em (and there are vehement opinions on both sides) they’ve certainly captured a slice of the market. And people who love ’em are fiercely loyal, not because their products are great (again, subject to opinion) but because owning and using Apple products is a lifestyle, an image and something that people personally identify with.
Apple hasn’t built a product so much as they’ve built a culture. And that’s what you want to do.
Don’t think for a second that just because you’re a small or local business that you don’t need that kind of branding. And don’t make excuses that just because you’re a small or local business that you can’t build that kind of loyalty. You do. You can. And if you want to succeed, you will.
Sell The Relationship
People do business with people they like. I can tell you for a fact that I shop regularly at the same deli because they talk to me personally each time I walk in the door, they know exactly which kind of potato chips are my favorite and they’re otherwise pleasant and engaging people.
Do they have the best bagels I’ve ever tasted? No, they just have bagels. Do they make the most amazing sandwiches I’ve ever eaten? No, they just have egg and cheese on a roll. But if I’m in the market for that product, I will go to that deli every time. Not almost every time, but every time, because they’ve cultivated a relationship with me.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because your customers don’t walk through your front door every day that you can’t build relationships. The web and social media give you tremendous opportunity to build relationships.
I’ve personally discovered a bunch of new people that I do businesses with just because they spent time talking with me on Twitter.
As human beings, we all want to feel connected, and if you as a business can make the connection, you’ll have a much better chance at success.
The relationship you build with customers is arguably the single most powerful marketing tool in your arsenal. It’s not easy to build trust and loyalty, but when you do, it’s the ultimate prize.
Sell The Value
This is a little bit of branding plus a little bit of relationship-building plus a little something extra. As a business it’s your job to create value for your customers. So what if you sell the same bagel (or service) that a million other people sell? You create value in other ways, through customer service, support, or other benefits that tip the scales in your favor.
A little perk here and there for your customers may cost you little to nothing, but be worth everything in terms of loyalty and repeat business.
Imagine yourself as the customer: all things being equal, would you rather do business with a company that returns your phone calls within 24 hours, or one that outsources its call center and loses you in the queue for twenty minutes?
It costs you nothing to return a phone call but gains you the trust of a customer who recognizes the value in your service.
You can offer value in many creative ways, so try to think beyond summer sales and discounts. Consider your customers’ needs and devise ways to fill them. Remember, people don’t buy services, the buy solutions.
If you really boil it down, I don’t buy bagels, I buy a solution to hunger. Sounds weird, but it’s true.
When someone buys your landscaping package, it’s not for the pink flowers, it’s for the peace of mind knowing their lawn is taken care of, and maybe for the relief of knowing they don’t have to fit gardening into their busy schedule. So distill your customers’ needs down to their most basic components, find out what they really want, then give it to them in spades.
It’s a challenge every business faces; not only how to get the customers, but how to keep the customers.
If you differentiate yourself by taking the focus off your services and putting it on branding, relationships and value then you’re already a step ahead of the competition.
What’s the value that you bring to a business relationship?
Read More In The “Make The Sale” Series
- Tip 1: Qualify Your Leads
- Tip 2: Dress The Way You Want To Be Perceived
- Tip 3: Set Expectations
- Tip 4: Know Your S#*@
- Tip 5: Believe In Yourself
- Tip 6: Have A Personality
- Tip 7: Have Good Collateral Materials
- Tip 8: Don’t Sell Your Services
- Tip 9: Talk (And Learn) About Your Prospect
- Tip 10: Be Genuine
- Tip 11: Have A Good Website
- Tip 12: Follow Up
- Tip 13: Define Your “Je Ne Sais Quoi”
- Tip 14: Give It Away