16. What are your points of difference?
"To gain the respect of your customers and earn their business, product knowledge should be a daily activity."
It's true! You can't sell anybody anything, you can't change people's minds, you can't persuade them to do something against their will and you can't get people to buy based on price alone.
We have to be crystal clear about what our job really is. We think that we have to apply pressure, use special psychological techniques and force people to buy from us.
Regardless of whether you are a supervisor, a sales person, a waitress, a service provider or a marketing manager your job is the same: Your job is to help people make good decisions - and the more informed you are about your products and services, the more valuable you are to your customer.
You can make your life a whole lot easier starting right now by stop thinking that you have to be clever and use some secret selling technique to get people to buy from you. All you have to do is answer this question; Why should I buy from you? When someone asks that question of you what they are really asking is "I need help making a good decision!"
You might sell the exact same thing as everyone else, but you point out the differences of why your product or service is unique to their business. Sure everyone else is selling the same thing; however, what makes yours different is you have asked your clients about what they want from the product. You have listened and taken notes and figured out what your customer is trying to accomplish. You then give the customer the solution to their problem. The best part is, it has not cost you anything because you are not charging extra, just helping the customer make a good decision. You are adding value.
The "point of difference" of your product is the extra service you offer. This extra, in a sense, is your consulting service. And as a customer, when I can get free consulting service with a product or service the decision of who to buy from is easy. Even if it is a meal in a restaurant.
The secret of persuading people is that there is no secret. Just call on enough people and show them why doing business with you is the best decision they can possibly make! And if everything is equal, the deciding factor will be the fact that YOU go with the deal.
How am I supposed to learn everything about the products I sell when there is so much confusing information that I have to muddle through?
The answer - points of difference.
To increase your product knowledge, compare points of difference in the products. Each point of difference can be viewed as positive or negative depending on what your customer is looking for. Each point will change the price and the value of the product.
Considering the number of line items it takes to maintain a competitive inventory, gaining sufficient product knowledge is a long, slow process. With new products and programs being introduced continuously and old ones being changed or discontinued, it becomes a real challenge to stay on top of the necessary information.
The secret of gaining product knowledge is to compare points of difference. What is the difference between the new and the old? What is the difference between your product and a competitor’s product? Each point of difference will change the price and the value of the product.
As a professional sales person you must be able to sell value added products. What kind of definition would you come up with when you are asked the meaning of “Value Added Selling”?
The best answer is to know the points of difference and sell your differences as a benefit.
A sales person who can answer objections with good solid facts and product information will out perform the person who “wings it” every time.
To gain the respect of your customers and earn their business, product knowledge should be a daily activity.
To increase product knowledge continually ask questions that help customers make the right choices. Read the trade journals and clip articles that contain helpful information for your customers.
All product knowledge has to be translated into customer benefits if it is to be of value to the customer. When selling, it does little good to focus on the features of the products or services offered. It makes little difference how long your company has been in business, how large your facility is, or how many employees you have unless it can be used to solve your customers problems.
Here is how you might use this to raise the bar on your own services. Take out any one of your software boxes, or stop in the computer store and browse through the software department. Notice how they are always comparing the old version with the new upgraded version. What would an upgraded version of YOU look like? What points of difference would there be between the old you and the you that you will become with just a slight nudge?
Here are a few examples:
The old version of you compared to the new version of you
OLD - Ho-hum about what I do
NEW - Really excited about my profession
OLD - Take care of my customers
NEW - Give extraordinary customer service
OLD - Only put in enough effort to get buy
NEW - Always go the extra mile for every customer
OLD - Customers know I appreciate them
NEW - Go out of my way to say thanks and show appreciation for my customers
When selling yourself and your services you must be able to convince your prospective customer that you are the right choice, you must know your strengths and be sure you transmit them so the message is received. Your customers can buy products from anyone. In an industry where everyone is selling the same products the most important point of difference is you. YOU are the customer's link to the universe. YOU are the one thing that really makes a difference. This puts a responsiblity on you to be resourse - a problem solver. A typical sales person focuses on price while a true consultant finds out from the customer what he or she wants and helps them get it.
Ask yourself this question. How much could I get someone to pay me to listen to my sales pitch? Most likely the answer is zero. However, consultants get paid thousands of dollars an hour to do what? Ask questions.
Here is an interesting fact I just received from my publisher. 85% of all books are purchased by women, and 95% of all books are never read past the first chapter. That means that if you simply put in a little effort and spend time reading and studying you will be amazed at the immediate difference.