Compete where you’re strongest
We get a lot of inquiries, so I know we’re getting the word out. But I worry that we won’t get hired by prospects because we don’t have the credentials or our competitors do a better job of hyping what they can do for prospects. I am looking for ideas on how to get our message across once a prospect asks us for information.
Thoughts of the day: Traffic from prospects is essential. Traffic from the right prospects is even better. Do some homework on how you stack up. Look for trends. Try your hardest to win the accounts that will be the best fit for your company’s strengths.
Getting traffic is job #1 in marketing. If the inflow is big enough, with the right prospects you’re half way home to hitting your sales goals. Now let’s work on what to do with those inquiries, to turn the right ones into new sales.
It’s important to know how your company stacks up against its’ competitors. Not sure who the competitors are? Pull a list of companies in your same Standard Industrial Classification code. Ask clients who recently bought from you who else they looked at. And while you’re at it, ask clients what they saw as the strengths and weaknesses of the competitors.
Make it someone’s job to do homework on your competitors. Build a grid to profile competitor attributes. Establish attribute categories based on what you know your company focuses on and what clients cited as points of difference. List competitors in rows. Fill in boxes on the grid to document specifics on how competitors compare to your company, attribute by attribute.
How do you find out what competitors are doing? Call and ask for information. Have someone mystery shop them. Talk to prospects you’ve won or lost. Ask about why they made the decision they did.
Once you have the grid filled out, look down each category taking into account all competitors. Are there specific categories in which your company is weak or strong? Can you spot any trends, for example, how competitors are changing products and staffing.
Make a list of strengths your company can cite in comparison to competitor weaknesses. For example, let’s say that your company consistently gets high marks for dependability. You might want to say that when buyers are asked to rate reliability, they cite your company as being twice as dependable as the nearest competitor.
Also put together a list of company weaknesses. Set up time to discuss what to do about them. Match potential buyers’ needs with attributes your company brings to the table. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Define a list of key prospects your company wants, ones that best fit your company’s strengths. Don’t be afraid to walk away from prospects that are a poor fit. Avoid taking losses trying to meet the needs of prospects who want more than your company can reasonably provide.
As leads come in, poll prospects about what they want. Use a standard questionnaire to match prospect needs with strengths your company has to promote. Connect prospects with clients who are similar, so they can compare notes on what your company does well. Look for seasonal buying cycles in which to promote specific product strengths. Cite specifics as to what each prospect wants and how your company meets or exceeds that need.
Andi Gray is president of Strategy Leaders Inc., strategyleaders.com, a business-consulting firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurial firms grow. She can be reached by phone at (877) 238-3535 or via email at AskAndi@StrategyLeaders.com.