Increase Sales With These 12 Sales & Marketing Strategies – Idea # 6
This is the 6th in the article series: 12 Sales & Marketing Activities to Increase Sales. The entire list is included at the end of this article, but the focus of this piece is difference, or how your business is perceived to be different by your prospects and customers.
Do you think your prospects and customers could tell someone how your product or service is better than the competition's? If not, you need to do a better job of educating them and continually reminding them. If you are not doing this, it makes it very easy for your customers to go to your competitor because they do not understand why you are better.
This is a common dilemma so many companies face and it can be easy to ignore – especially if you are in a fiercely competitive industry. For instance, if you are an accounting firm, how do you differentiate yourself from the thousands of other accountants that are in every city? What is your message to your prospects that convinces them to consider you for their accounting needs?
You must differentiate yourself somehow and then let your prospects know about it, and continue to reinvigorate the message once they are your clients. Here are some typical areas of differentiation:
Level of Service – Are you a full service firm or do you provide the bare minimum for budget conscious customers? There is a real estate service in our city that gives basic service – MLM listings, a yard sign and contracts for a small flat fee instead of the realtors who command large contracts and offer more extensive marketing of properties.
Decide what your strength is and promote it – are you full service, limited service, somewhere in the middle with a mid-level price range? Do you offer same day delivery? Whatever your commitment is to your level of service, let your potential customers know about it!
Pricing – While pricing should not be a selling point, some industries are notorious for having "low price leaders." Unless you own a used car lot, grocery store or certain level of jewelry shop (you know the ones I'm referring to here!) You should not use low price as a selling point. There is always someone who can come into the market and figure out how to undercut you on price. Sell ??on the value and knowledge you bring to your clients. Of course, it's okay to have 'specials' or sales but use them sparingly.
Areas of Expertise – Let's return to the example of an accounting firm. Do you specialize in working within a certain industry or company size? Do you have a department devoted to audits? Do you provide bookkeeping services AND have a tax attorney on staff? What makes you different from the accounting firm across the street? You know that you are better or offer unique services that other firms do not. Make sure that your customers know it and can tell others.
Technology – Is your company always on the cutting edge of technology? That is a competitive edge and a reason that some people will do business with you! For example, at this point in time, there is a 'new' file format called BIM (Building Information Modeling) that is beginning to permeate the construction, architecture and engineering industries. The firms that are using this format are eager to tell their clients and vendors that they are working with this new file format. Some are refusing to work with vendors who are not using BIM files. At this point, it's a differentiation. I expect at some point it will be an industry standard, but for now, it's an advantage that firms are using to promote their services to exhibit that they are on the cutting edge and leading the industry into this new technology.
What other areas can you name to separate yourself from your competition? If you can point to something that is really unique about your business, it can become what you're known for and drive more new customers your way.
1. Get a plan – write your goals and how you will achieve these
2. Hire an expert – internal employee, outsource or combination?
3. Define your process – what steps are taken during every phase of your sales cycle? Who is responsible for each step?
4. Organize your data – where is data stored and how is it managed?
5. Define & expand your market – who are your best clients? Where can you find more that are similar? Could you serve a different market to grow?
6. Be different – How are you different and better than your competition?
7. Communicate to your market – How do you let your prospects know about you so they can buy something?
8. Look at your web site – would you buy from you?
9. Ask for testimonials – It's doing a great thing multiplied by 3! (you, your customer, your customer's customer)
10. Do a better job at networking – is the Chamber of Commerce really the best place for you?
11. Pick up the phone and call someone – increase sales activity on a regular basis
12. Write something – online articles, blogs, book, newspapers, magazines, etc.