- When we focus on selling, we can lose sight of our obligation to create value for our prospective clients.
- You must provide your prospective clients with the ability to improve their results.
- Working to be your client’s competitive advantage is the surest and truest path to winning deals.
It’s easy to sell on autopilot, especially when we believe that the conversation is mainly about our winning a deal—a goal best accomplished by not actively pursuing it. Instead, the best and fastest way to win a client’s business is to use your insight and expertise to create value for them.
How would your sales pitch change if you focused exclusively on your client’s results? What if you didn’t mention so much as a word about your company or your solution? What if you dropped the same old set of questions your contact has heard dozens or hundreds of times?
The way to create your own competitive advantage is to be your client’s competitive advantage. Here are five areas where you can play that role.
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Understanding Their World
Your clients often struggle to understand their world, especially when what used to work perfectly no longer produces the same results. Sooner or later, reality will overcome any set of human assumptions, a process exacerbated by an environment of disruptive change.
You create a competitive advantage for your client when you explain what has changed, how, and why. In doing so, you help them see something invisible to them.
This idea turns the legacy approach on its head. Rather than starting a conversation by asking the client what problems they are having, you help explain why they are struggling. That sets a different tone for the sales conversation and calls for a radically different buying process.
Proactively Recognizing the Need to Change
You are little help to your prospective clients if you only offer to help them after they’ve become dissatisfied. Why should they have to struggle or even fail before you start talking to them? More to the point, why would you only talk to contacts from companies who are trying to solve a particular problem? The sad fact is that we have long sought to make selling easy. It is easy to sell to someone who is already trying to buy, an approach that gives you more in common with a vending machine than a trusted advisor. An advisor provides the advice that allows you to avoid harm, instead of just cleaning up after the damage has been done.
You create a competitive advantage for your prospective clients when you proactively help them recognize the need to change before they have no choice. Because your experience helps you see around corners, you can help them predict their business’s future.
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Enabling Good Decisions
It is a mistake to believe that your clients know how to make a good decision around their future results. In some cases, your contacts might be well-informed, having bought what you sell many times in the past. However, more often, they will not have experience making the decision now required of them.
When you have helped dozens or hundreds of companies to make that very same decision effectively, you create a competitive advantage for your prospective client. The benefit accrues to your client when your conversation enables them to make a good decision on the first attempt, one that ensures they generate the better results they need.
You help by identifying the factors your contacts need to consider and how they should assess those factors. Then, you teach them how to recognize the trade-offs they are making instead of allowing them to make concessions (often in the name of a lower price) that will harm their future results. There is a competitive advantage to getting things right when decisions are strategic.
Guiding Their Journey
When buyers believe they know how to buy, the process tends to use an arm’s length approach. We can describe these approaches as “legacy buying approaches.” The worst of these approaches is an RFP, with three possible partners getting an hour or ninety minutes to speak with the decision-makers. RFPs are generally an outdated genre, as evidenced by their unchanging templates. More importantly, ninety minutes isn’t enough time to discern fit, one of the essential factors in a thriving commercial relationship.
Your contacts are trying to be efficient with their time when they should be seeking effectiveness. Efficiency is expensive when it causes your contacts to skip conversations and leave out people who are going to be impacted by a decision to change. Many of your contacts will spend too little time learning what they need to know to make the best decision for their business.
As a person who has helped many others make a good decision for their business, you create a competitive advantage by facilitating a process that will lead to the right decision and the success that comes with it.
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Improving Their Results
In the end, you provide your prospective client with the competitive advantage of better results. Certain LinkedIn memes will advise you to “stop selling and start helping” you clients. Anyone who doesn’t recognize that selling is already helping is not worth your time, let alone your attention. Often, they’re just self-loathing salespeople who are uncomfortable with the title “salesperson.”
Becoming your prospective client’s competitive advantage requires much more than platitudes. If you want to help your clients produce the better results they need, you need to lead them to those results. You need to become an expert in your field, one capable of leading others to better decisions and the better results they need.
The five areas here form a template for creating a competitive advantage for your prospective clients, no matter what their needs or their industry. By using a modern, consultative sales approach, you will all but ensure that you are the person your clients will prefer to buy from now and in the future.
Do Good Work:
- Shift your intentions to creating value for your client inside the conversations you have with them.
- Spend time helping them make the best decision for their company and their future results.
- Work to become your prospective client’s competitive advantage and maintain that role by repeating the steps above.
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