Streetfighter marketing

Your competition sells good stuff; you sell good stuff. Their service is acceptable; your service is acceptable. Their prices are competitive; your prices are competitive.

In other words, the buyer looks at your package and the competitor’s package and sees parity, along the product dimension and company dimension.  However, there are some ways you can gain an edge, according to Tom Reilly, a professional speaker and author of Value Added Selling.

The same product, from the same company, from two different salespeople is two different solutions altogether. Mr. Reilly shares the example of two major companies who asked how much value their salespeople bring to the table and discovered that 35-37 percent of the value customers receive comes from the people with whom they do business.

Ask yourself, if you left your company tomorrow and went to work for a really good competitor, how much business would you take with you? If your answer is “little” or “none,” Mr. Reilly suggests that you’re not bringing much value to the customer.

When your products are similar or the same suppliers’ services rival each other, the only thing left to differentiate a solution is the salesperson. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much are you worth to the customer?
  • If you couldn’t argue that your service was any better than the competition, how would you sell?
  • If you couldn’t rely on product differentiation, what would you use as an advantage?

You would have only yourself left to sell. You must be able to answer this question for the customer, “Why should the buyer want to do business with you as a salesperson?” You are the “product” over which you have the most control. You may not be able to do anything about your product’s quality or your company’s service level, but you can do something about your performance. One study found that the salesperson’s competence is the number one factor accounting for overall customer satisfaction. All other things being equal, would the customer pay to do business with you, as a salesperson? To increase your value to the customer, doing the following:

Study. Become a serious student of your profession. Increase the value of your knowledge. Study the market, your company, the customer, your products and your profession. Become an expert. Learn so much about your craft that the customer can’t afford not to do business with you. Become the benchmark by which all other salespeople are judged.

Follow up. The number one complaint buyers have about salespeople is a lack of follow-up. Guarantee your follow-up. Advise buyers that this is part of your value added. Assure them that you will be there after the sale to guarantee their complete satisfaction with your solution. Promise them accessibility before, during and after the sale. Promise a lot, but always deliver more than what you promise.

Seek to add value, not cost. Diligently look for ways to add value with your performance. The customer must perceive you as a profit center, not a cost center. Help the customer achieve greater efficiency and higher productivity. Help the buyer gain maximum performance from your solution. Work as hard to keep the business as you did to get the business. Look for ways to re-create value at every turn.

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