In this episode 2 of 5 on Friday, international sales coach, Malcolm Gallagher, present 5 things a salesperson should never do. Are you “guilty” of any of them? Have you got any others to contribute for a future 5 on Friday video?
The Sales Shed - sales, negotiation, marketing
In tough or uncertain times, like now, then its quite normal for businesses to get predatory on their competitors. They do this by attempting to lure the competitors’ customers says Malcolm Gallagher of Bizvision.co.uk
The key question is what are you doing to keep your competitors out of your best customers?
And a second question could be what are you doing to attract the customer of your competitors?
Coming up is a 2 in 1 strategy you can use to answer both questions
First, let’s address keeping your customers out of the hands of your competitors.
Sometimes the loss of a customer comes with a great shock. You may have a great and long track record with them, you may excellent customer service ratings from them, and you may have felt secure in your relationship.
And then suddenly they sign with a competitor. Worse still it may be a competitor you have not seen before or one who cannot offer the depth of service and expertise that you do. You’ve been blind-sided.
However, you shouldn’t be surprised that it happens!!
Long term relationships usually breed some form complacency. Too much familiarity for example, or not spending enough time connecting across your customer and its people is another.
That’s your “failure” reasons but you also need to consider the cunning or strategic approach by competitors.
One of the ways I coach people to steal customers from competitors is to develop an outflanking strategy.
Often you CANNOT steal a competitor’s customer in straightforward like-for-like situation. So you need to become a game changer.
For example, you may like to help your target prospect evaluate how they buy your type of goods or services. You can do this effectively, informatively and persuasively with white papers or articles or videos or blog until you can get to make a meeting and presentation. Of course, you always insert into such material the criteria that play to your strength!
Aim to change the focus of your discussion away from what has been the traditional approach to their buying whatever it is you make or offer. Look carefully at the validity from a buyer’s perspective of your Value Proposition ( you do know it don’t you?), how they “see” your offer and its ROI for them.
Now you need to do something that most businesses will not. Most will run away from doing this which is great for you provided you are not a runner also!
The best way to stop your competitors being stolen is to think NEGATIVELY. Yes, I did say think negatively, half-empty, gloom-mongering whatever you want to call it!
It’s about deep diving into what could go wrong.
I coach people to first assume the role of their competitors and then to plan an attack on their own customer base!
It’s not easy to do this as you are likely to get all defensive but surely it’s better than losing customers?
Do an honest SWOT analysis. You know Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. SWOT is an oldie but goldie tool. Remember you are deep diving into negativity so truly critique yourselves against your competitors.
Oh, by the way, you do know your competitors don’t you and you do know their strengths and weaknesses? If not you better get started. Build a “Comp Set” of your top 5 competitors along with an analysis matrix. (mail me if you want a simple spreadsheet one )
Now get yourself and your team into a “blue sky” session to think about how, as one of your competitors, you’d steal one or more of your customers away. Here are some prompts for your thinking session:
- What could your competitor say that may cause concern or doubt about your company?
- How could your competitor show or highlight your weaknesses?
- How could you be different or game-change so you wouldn’t have to compete head on?
- What could your competitors do to sneak in so you don’t spot them?
- Who else at your customer might get involved in the decision to select your competitor?
It can be a really enjoyable exercise if you get your team really involved. Over the years I’ve facilitated many a session for clients and I’m now not surprised what arises! Your people will love the opportunity to have their say. But don’t do it, or lead it yourself if you are not prepared to have an open session, to genuinely deep-dive and to fully explore your dangers.
Once you are clear about your, let’s call them vulnerabilities, it’s time to develop strategies and action plans to do something about them. Over to you!
Now for part 2 of this 2 in 1 strategic approach.
So far I have helped you prevent the loss of customers. Now you can “reverse engineer” my approach to create a strategy of stealing your competitors’ customers. Think about it!
Remember in tough and uncertain times your competitors will want to steal your customers. Don’t be soft. Toughen up and don’t let them. Go for theirs!
Connecting better than Networking, says Malcolm Gallagher
Do you want bigger and better customers? Do you want to get into bigger companies? Is your networking NOT working? Connecting can be your answer. It’s much more effective than plain old networking! Start connecting to deliver results. Here’s how!
This is one of my short, incisive SpotLearn from BizVision tips.
Use the format in the image below (right click to copy the image and make into your own template) then you can commence connecting to get to where you want to go. (There are two goals here, A&B).
Start with your 3 years ahead vision and then work backward listing the who and what you need to connect for you to reach your goals.
Or you can vary it by reducing the time.
The KEY is to picture the goal, the business person you want to connect with and work backward from there.
Hello from the BizVision Sales Shed. I’m Malcolm Gallagher and I’m feeling positive and optimistic.
I’ve been taking my Brexit Gloom Buster Tablets twice daily and they are working! For example, this last week I developed thrive strategies for 5 businesses I met, mostly in food and drink, developed a win contracts strategy for another, come out with an exciting new brand initiative for us and have initiated a programme for SMEs to access the African market. All in a week……!
I’ve managed to do that, and motivate the businesses involved because I have long been practising what I call “beyond half-full”. I have a mantra of No Problems Only Opportunities and I’ve bored people for years with it!
But it’s true and works!
For instance, research just published by Aberdeen and PJA Marketing clearly shows that buyers actually reach out to vendors or suppliers at the beginning of the buying process.
What’s more, buyers are especially willing to speak to suppliers early in the buying process IF the supplier can actually help them make a buying decision.
Far too many businesses have salespeople who are not making the prospect contact and are coming up with the weak excuse nobody is buying because of “Brexit”. Now, I can understand that excuse existing when you are besieged daily with Brexit gloom. But somewhere the sky is blue. And that’s where I prefer to fly. How about you?
A great answer to finding the blue sky is in my recent interview with Charlotte Foster (see it in Sales Shed TV ) in which she talks about the real need to communicate even more in these challenging or uncertain times. Keep existing and potential customers updated with positive news and great ideas.
One other thing that I’d add is the need to firm up on the communication of your difference from your competitors. Don’t let yourself, or your team, fall into the “similar” trap. As Dr. Jonas Ridderstråle in Funky Business said too many similar businesses, offering similar things, to similar people… you get the idea. Maximise your difference.
With the businesses I work with, I usually go straight in on this at the beginning and ask where they are different. It usually needs a lot of probing to get the answer. Most are too busy getting on with the business that they have forgotten their differentiation which usually means they are missing opportunities.
This last week I also did something I hate doing and have avoided for the past number of years by hiding behind the web and email. I actually went cold calling and I got two new customers! It was hard to do at first, (it’s years since I did it) but then I felt elated after the first call said yes to my proposal. That made me confident for the second one which also proved to be successful. High fives all round!
And, on top of that, I succeeded in getting two other clients, with whom we had been communicating by email but were wavering, fully on board through a face to face visit.
Watch out world next week – I’m planning more personal visits!
What about you- are you still hiding behind the web or are you getting out?
I had to laugh at one web company who were trying to prospect, or sell to me, the other day. They invited me to travel to their place for a coffee and a chat!
It doesn’t work that way does it?!
So many businesses have been seduced by IT slick-talk into thinking that the web can do it all for them. That’s not true and I’ve been walking the walk myself to prove it. The old adage that people buy from people they know like and trust is so important at this time. It’s not just important for surviving but, I believe, vital for thriving.
Don’t get me wrong the web has an important to play in lead generation, customer confidence and service but don’t let your salespeople , or even yourself if you are the salesperson, believe that nobody is buying because of Brexit.
I’m quite excited about the African trading initiative, the new channels for my distillery client, the development with another client of their new home delivered freshly prepared food pack, the new heritage range with my Ceramic artist client around Mayflower 400 which is about the fact that in 2020 it’s 400 years since the Mayflower – think of the American market opportunities around that! Oh, and have I told you about the many Indian companies talking to us about accessing the UK market…. See there are no problems only opportunities. I’ll repeat don’t let your sales team, marketing people or anyone else tell you that “nobody is buying because of Brexit”. There’s a big world out there beyond Brexit and the EU. Tell yourself you are going truffle hunting to sniff out opportunity or reach for the blue sky (select your own analogy!).