Why do people buy milk or bread or cereal or soda at the gas station convenience store when those items are less expensive at a grocery store? Obviously, they have a need for the items. More importantly, buying at the convenience store is quick and—you guessed it—convenient. And “quick” and “convenient” represent value. They fill up with gas, run in and pick up the items they need, and they’re on their way. No hunting for a parking space. No grocery carts to dodge. No long check-out lines.
How much prospects are willing to pay for your product or service is a not just a function of how much they need it, but also how much value they believe they are receiving. The more value they receive, the more they are willing to pay. So, the question is not how much to charge for your product or service, but rather, how to add value. Certainly, you can add tangible value by bundling in additional products or services at little or no additional fee. But, don’t forget the most important value you can add—YOU.
Prospects need to feel comfortable with you. They need to feel confident that you not only understand their situation, but are also competent to address it effectively and efficiently with your product or service. So, your people skills—your ability to create rapport and communicate effectively with prospects—and your thorough understanding of their needs, wants, problems, and goals are the intangible elements that add value (prospects are willing to pay for) to your product or service.
When you focus your attention on developing your people skills and your knowledge about how your product or service addresses your prospects’ needs, you won’t have to wonder about how much to charge; price will take care of itself.
Why Should I Buy From You?
If your product is better quality, your delivery more reliable, your service more responsive, and your company more renowned, why isn’t every prospect for your product or service buying from you? Why? Because your competitors tout the same qualities. To the eyes of potential customers, you and your competitors look the same.
When was the last time you saw a marketing brochure that described a company’s reputation, the quality of their product or service, and their responsiveness to customers as average? Can you imagine that company’s marketing slogan? “We Don’t Even Try!”
Maybe the answer to the question, “Why should I buy from you?” is not that which makes you better than your competitors, but instead, the elements that make you different.
Differentiation can be accomplished in two ways:
The first and most obvious differentiator is the aspects of your product or service not provided by your competitors. Elements prospects would miss out on if they didn’t buy from you.
The second and potentially more important and influential differentiator is the manner in which you describe and discuss the aspects of your product or service, even if they are essentially the same as those provided by your competitors. Sometimes, simply not sounding like your competitors is enough to set you apart from them and give you the slight edge needed to win the business.
If your competitors promise fastest delivery (they can’t all be the fastest), you can position your delivery service for people who can’t tolerate delays. Everyone expects things fast. No one wants to put up with delays.
If your competitors talk about helping their customers save money, you can position your service for people who don’t want to spend money unnecessarily. Most people want to save money, but they are more determined not to waste it.
When you discuss the benefits of your product or service from a positive perspective—the pleasure a prospect would derive from them, you run the risk of sounding like your competitors. Examine those benefits from the perspective of what your customer would lose—the pain they would experience—by not having them. Then, discuss those benefits from the perspective of the pain they help prospects avoid. People desire pleasure. But, they are more motivated to take action (and buy from you) to avoid pain.
Building Block or Stumbling Block
The first 30 seconds of contact with a prospect can be a building block or a stumbling block to developing a relationship.
If your initial contact is “I” centered, i.e., it focuses on you, your company, and your reasons for requesting an appointment, it’s more likely to be a stumbling block. The prospect will tune out quickly.
Being I-centered sounds like:
“I’m with Accelerated Shipping. We help companies save money on their coast-to-coast shipments. I’d like to set up a time to meet and discuss… I believe I can show you… I’m confident we can save you money…”
“I’m with…” “We help…” “I’d like…” “I believe…” “I’m confident…” “We can…”
Prospects are concerned about a lot of things: themselves, their companies, profits, shareholder returns, processes for increasing revenues, processes for reducing expenses, ways to increase customer satisfaction, and ways to improve internal processes. What they are not concerned about is you and your company!
You can turn a stumbling block into a building block by focusing your message on the prospect’s concerns and how your product or service addresses one or more of them. The prospect is more apt to listen and engage in a conversation…and grant you an appointment.
Here is a prospect-centered approach:
“Accelerated Shipping has enabled several major distributors in your industry to reduce the cost of coast-to-coast shipments by as much as 28% while speeding up delivery times an average of two days. Are you open to discovering if you can obtain similar results?”
This approach addresses several of the prospects concerns—reducing costs, which increases profits (and ultimately, shareholder return), and improving customer satisfaction with faster deliveries.
I know what you’re thinking, “Where’s the pain discussed in the previous article?” Although unarticulated, it’s there. The implicit pain questions are: “Are you paying more for your coast-to-coast shipments than you should be paying?” and “Is it taking longer than necessary for your coast-to-coast shipments to be delivered?”
Focus first on your prospect. If you get far enough along in the development process, there will be plenty of time to talk about your company and your product or service.