So when was the last time you really looked at the tools you use to gain the edge against your competition? These are things that really tell people what you do and how you do it and how you can do great things for them. It makes great business sense to take a giant step back once in a while to re-evaluate how you are approaching your prospects.
The sharper you are in your presentation of your company and your products or services, the more you can cut through obstacles and move toward gaining a new customer. Here are 7 ways to help you sharpen your approach:
1. Sharpen your conversations with a prospect by having a minimum of five success stories about how you helped five of your current customers.
The biggest question a future customer has is “Why should I do business with you?” Having the facts ready for how you have helped your customers is essential. Make sure the stories you are sharing are current and relevant to the person you are talking to. If you do not have your own stories get them from your company. Give your prospects tangible, quantifiable results. This will help them understand why it makes sense to go with you and not your competition.
2. Sharpen your credibility by knowing exactly why your #1 account bought from you.
Do you know why your #1 account bought from you other than price? You know that price was NOT the reason they chose you, but other factors differentiated you from other companies. Use this story at a critical part of a conversation with a potential customer. This story can raise your credibility and build the confidence in the prospect of why they should go ahead with you.
3. Sharpen the list of your top five references.
We are increasingly a buying public that likes to hear what other people are saying, whether we are looking to try a new restaurant and relying on Yelp, or buying something on Amazon and scanning customer reviews first. The same goes for your potential customers. They want to hear what other people are saying about you. Have your list ready to pass along. Make sure your references are solid and will speak highly of you and/or your organization.
4. Sharpen your knowledge of your prospect’s business.
Don’t just know about the department you’re targeting, but find out about the business as a whole. How many employees do they have? How many years in business? How many departments? What are they are trying to accomplish for 2015? If you are not sure, ask. People love to talk about themselves and their companies. The more informed you are, the greater the likelihood you will earn the prospect’s business.
5. Sharpen your top ten target list.
This is not just for your benefit. It could also be for your prospect’s benefit. He or she may want to find out if you’re prepared to handle business from a company their size, or if you’re focused on handling the needs of companies in the same industry. It helps the prospect determine if you are a good fit. It provides information on your capabilities and a feel for the direction your company is going in. Be ready with a list.
6. Sharpen your ability to reach out for help.
Have three or more people you can call on internally if you need assistance with a prospect. Sometimes you just don’t have all of the answers-especially if the questions are very technical, you’re new to the job or you’re selling a new product or service. Don’t hesitate to lean on the people who have more knowledge than you. A sale is a sale no matter who helps you out in a pinch. Use your technical support, managers or even the executive team members. This could make or break the sale.
7. Sharpen your ability to quickly overcome objections.
Be prepared to turnaround objections you hear right out of the gate. No matter if you are new to sales, or you’re a seasoned veteran, you know that negative responses can be anticipated (i.e. too expensive, all set with what we’ve got). There is almost no such thing as an unexpected response. Remember the process: Take their guard down, repeat, reassure, and resume to have them see why they should talk with you or meet with you to discover the good things you have to offer.
Make sure to keep these seven tools sharpened and at your disposal to gain the competitive edge. Good luck for the rest of 2014 and make it a great start for 2015!
The Art of the Thank You Note
After each first appointment with someone do you write a thank you note? Not an email — but a handwritten note — thanking them for the time they spent with you, whether on the phone or face-to-face?
Realize when the prospective customer agreed to meet or speak with you for the first time, they took time out of their day when they could have been doing something else. Thank them for that time! This very short note costs almost nothing, but the impression you leave behind will be priceless. This gives you a competitive edge because almost no one is doing it. Be one of the few!
When you write a thank you note be sure to do the following:
- Address the person you met as “Dear (first name)” and not “Hi” or “Hey there” or other casual greetings.
- Thank them for the time they spent with you and tell them it was a pleasure meeting or speaking with them. For example, “Thank you so much for the time you spent with me today. It was a pleasure meeting you.”
- Mention something they stated when you met. “You mentioned…”
- If you have another meeting scheduled make sure you confirm it in the note. “I look forward to speaking (or meeting) with you again on December 13th at 10:00.”
- For the closing use “Sincerely” “Best regards” or “All the best” followed by your signature.
- If you did not meet in person make sure you include your business card.
- Handwrite the envelope along with using a stamp.
If you make writing thank you notes a habit you will reap the benefits of making a special connection with your prospective customers. Don’t worry about your handwriting – just send it. People will appreciate it more than you can imagine!