A Marketing Tip of the Month by Sandy Geroux
Customers look for several things from a company when deciding with whom they will do business. These fall into three categories:
- Knowledge & expertise;
- Competence, care and commitment in the follow-through of the sale (customer service);
- Honest, ethical and fair treatment;
- A reputation for excellence/reliability/consistently high quality (by the way, all partnering service providers must be of the same high quality as your company, or this becomes the weakest link in the chain… and you could lose business as a result.
- A complete line of valuable service offerings, options or products from which to choose
- A fair and equitable price
Notice that “price” isn’t at the top of the list! And yet, many companies compete solely on price, missing the mark when it comes to the value they have to offer. Even if they don’t compete on price, they allow conversations with potential customers to focus on price, forgetting that value is really what most customers seek, not simply price . No one wants to pay any price without receiving value, but reasonable customers will pay the right price for the perceived and received value of your offerings.
The following are a few tips to ensure value supersedes price in the minds of your potential customers:
- Articulate your value. You may offer great value, but do you adequately articulate it? Don’t assume your customers know the benefits you offer. Have a conversation with them about what they need or want you to deliver, teach them how to work with you, educate them regarding problems they may have that they don’t even know they have, and let them know what you can do to help.
- Don’t talk about features until you know which results are desired! Use questionnaires to structure your conversations and focus on discovering how you can serve your customers. When do they need your services? What’s most important to them? What have they done in the past (that may not have worked) that you can do differently to help them achieve the proper result? What is their desired result? Once you know this vital information, you can articulate your value in providing features and benefits that help them accomplish those results.
- Ensure your knowledge (and the knowledge of all employees) is thorough and completely up-to-date – training needs to be more specific, relevant and more consistent. You can’t adequately serve customers if you (and everyone associated with you) don’t know your business, inside and out.
- Deliver top-notch follow-through (customer service) – return phone calls and e-mails in a timely manner; maintain consistent contact throughout the transaction (whether or not you have new information to report); ensure details are not overlooked by using a system to organize them (one that is not antiquated and obsolete). Automate your systems and processes to increase productivity and reduce those missed details.
- Offer at least some, even if not all, features customers desire (for example, unique new technology options available that can separate you from your competition), such as:
- reviews and testimonials – Did you know that 71% of online shoppers read reviews, making it the most widely read consumer-generated content? (Forrester); Also, among first-time buyers on review-equipped sites, 42% said the reviews were the primary factor. (Foresee Results Study, 2006). Are reviews and customer testimonials available and PROMINENT on your website? If you’re trying to attract new customers, how do you gain their trust and help them give you a chance to serve them?
- individualized logins or personalized web pages to check on order or transaction status;
- web-based product selection options, such as new home upgrades offered by home builders or paint-color combination software, such as that offered by Lowe’s;
- downloadable information, such as tip sheets, how-to’s and resource lists (for example, how to prepare your home for sale or how to effectively work with a mortgage lender);
- webcasts and podcasts to provide tips, information or instructions – containing the same kind of information offered above, but in mobile audio format
In other words, it’s all about performance and benefits first, then features and options, then price. If the first two sets of items are of the highest quality available, price does not become a factor – unless someone is simply shopping price. If they’re simply shopping price and you’re not the lowest option, you’re not a good fit and shouldn’t work together! You will never be able to provide a solution for their needs because they believe low price is their primary need, when it may not be. If you can’t provide a solution for your customer’s true “needs”, they are not your target customer – and you’ll never satisfy them at any price.
The only time price is the biggest factor in a customer’s decision is when the services and offerings of all companies and representatives are identical, or are perceived to be identical. If you can get customers to recognize they are not – and prove you are the superior choice – they will pay more for the benefits you have to offer.
So, let go of those who focus on something you don’t offer… and nurture relationships with those who seek what you do offer. Then show them why you’re clearly the superior choice and a good fit for working together to achieve their goals.
Have a great month!
Sandy has been a national speaker, trainer and coach since the year 2000, speaking to organizations and individuals across the U.S. to help them achieve breakthrough performance in sales, customer service and personal and professional productivity through effective risk-taking.
She is a member of the National Speakers Association, is a former Dean of the Speakers’ Academy for the Central Florida Chapter of NSA and now serves on the Board of Directors for that Chapter. For more information, visit Sandy’s website at http://www.sandygeroux.com