Want to pay less? Sometimes you don’t even have to ask. Sales Force Magazine claims 75% of sales people offer a lower price before it’s ever asked for.
“Most of us,” says Florida consultant Jaynie Smith, “will buy value if we know what it is.” Value is defined in a company’s competitive advantage, its positioning; how the company values its difference with the competition. This is their “unfair advantage.”
Smith is one of Vistage International’s top speakers. Smith asks the CEOs who come to hear her to identify their competitive advantage(s). Most suggest items such as “outstanding customer service,” “our people,” or “our quality.”
Her response? “Blah, blah, blah.” Not quantifiable.
The question she urges be answered is “why us?” And she suggests that answer be crisp and quantifiable.A magazine ad for Zurich insurance contends their programs are as efficient as a well-run factory, citing “have achieved, on average, a 13% reduction in claims frequency and reduced costs by more than an average of 25%." Perhaps that explains why more than 60% of the manufacturers on the Fortune 1000 list are Zurich customers. Zurich has made clear what its competitive advantages are by quantifying them for the marketplace.
Smith suggests companies should look for “only statements” about their company –‘only,’ she contends, “provides a competitive advantage.” Examples she offers include, “we are the only company offering xxxx.” Or, “we increased xxxx by xx%” - whatever the Xs are.
“Ninety-five percent of employees lack agreement as to their company’s competitive edge,” she contends. Not sure? Then try this exercise: Identify what you perceive your competitive advantage to be, and then ask your employees what they see it to be. Are they aligned? Not likely. “There is a sharp disparity,” Smith says, “between what management and their subordinates believe is important to their customers.” Take the exercise a step further and get the viewpoint of your customers.
Complicating matters, Smith contends, “prospects don’t value the same things as customers” and urges using double blind research studies to find out from your customers and from those you would like to be your customers what they value. CEOs often resist spending. However, Smith suggests it’s all in the math and asks, “Would you spend 10 to 40 thousand dollars to get the information necessary to help you close 10% more business?” If so, it’s an investment, not a cost.
“Most businesses today,” Jaynie Smith claims, “are playing chicken in the price game,” leaving money on the table before the potential customer ever comes into the room. How about you? What’s your competitive, unfair advantage?