Friday, October 16, 2009

Standing Out in a Commodity Market

A reader recently wrote in to sales trainer Colleen Francis with the following question:

In agriculture sales our product is commoditized and our prices are regulated by the markets. Of course we all have specialty and "unique" premium products but clients often see us all the same. What can we do to differentiate ourselves and not compete only on price? Thanks, Dean.

We agree with Francis, who says this is a great question for everyone, because in a marketplace where customers see similarities everywhere, we can all be reduced to commodities if we are not careful. What you need are a number of differentiators to use singularly or in tandem on each deal to break past the sameness and win the business.

Here are seven ideas:


--Give them something to talk about. Smother your prospects in testimonials and referrals from other companies. It's hard to ignore, or resist the word of respected peers in the marketplace.

--Meet their expectations. Ask them point blank what should be in your proposal, what it should cover and what it should cost. You might be surprised at how direct the answers are. Give the customer exactly what they want, in their words, and you will be surprised at how many more deals you close, more quickly.

--Acknowledge and appreciate. Thank your customers for doing business with you. Acknowledge that they are important to you. Reward them for staying with you. This will lead to repeat orders and referrals.

--Communicate with clients using their preferred technology. That could be face-to-face, phone, email, SKYPE, IM or FaceBook. It's not for you to decide. Meet your client where they are at and accommodate their requirements. That will set you apart from everyone else who refuses to participate in new modes of communication (and 80% of your competition will refuse to participate).

--Be nice. Remember their birthday, their spouse's birthday or even their dog's birthday. Remembering the person in a business relationship impresses the heck out of people!

--Be easy. Be the easiest to do business with. Let your customer be the diva for a change and help them buy from you in the ways that make sense to them.

--Be first. Return calls and emails so fast that it becomes part of what you're known for. Being there first is a dramatic demonstration of how much you care and how you work for the customer.

--Be last. Make your presentations and proposals last on their list for review so you can gage their comparison of yours to the others and make your memorable.

Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions. Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line. Start improving your results today with Engage's online Newsletter Engaging Ideas and a FREE 7 day intensive sales eCourse: www.EngagingIdeasOnline.com.

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