So, Why Should I Buy From You?
Every day, salespeople commit professional suicide. The scenario goes something like this:
Skeptical Customer: “So, why should I buy from you? We’ve been buying from (company X) for years.”
Earnest Salesperson (smelling the sale): “But, we have great service!” Or, if Earnest Salesperson decides to put a little extra oomph behind it, he adds, “We have the best service in the business!” Earnest Salesperson confidently smiles at Skeptical Customer, knowing that at any moment Skeptical Customer is going to reach for his checkbook. Instead, Skeptical Customer yawns and says, “Yeah, but everybody says that. Why should I buy from you?” And another sale dies before its time.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Because we may not have a better answer. The truth is, almost every company says they have the best service. When everybody says it, it’s meaningless. And yet there are businesses—many of them—where service is the main differentiator between competitors. There are also buyers—again, many of them—who make service the main criteria in their buying decision. Sales result when salespeople communicate their great service to a buyer to whom that’s important. Making your service proposition stand out from your competitors—and making it mean something—requires a three-step process.
Define your service offering. Preferably, you’ll do that by offering something your competitors don’t. Start this way: get your key people together—include salespeople, customer service people, department managers and anyone else whose primary responsibility is dealing with the customer. Go around the room and ask each person to come up with one specific thing your company does to add value to its product or service offering. List them one by one on a flipchart or whiteboard and next to each one, note the benefit to the customer. Make this a no-B.S. discussion—only list those things your company does consistently, not the things you only do on your best day when all the stars are aligned properly and the boss is in a good mood.
Now, review each item and ask who among your competition offer the same thing. When two or more competitors do it, erase that item. Using this process, the group should be able to come up with at least one thing that makes your company unique, is specific and has a tangible benefit to the customer. (If not, get to work and figure out something you can offer that is unique.) You have now defined your service offering.
Offer proof. A good way to do this is with a specific, written service policy. A better way to do it is with written references from happy customers who have received quality service from you. Either way, salespeople should carry a brag book of references and testimonials, and be prepared to prove their service offering.
Have consequences when your company does not live up to its service promise. The most common is a money-back guarantee, but it doesn’t have to be the only consequence. Other forms of consequences for failure to provide on a service promise could include merchandise or merchandise certificates, some sort of gift to the customer (such as a catered lunch for their employees) or another make-good gesture. The consequences need to be part of your written service policy, and they should be presented to the customer as part of your service presentation, rather than determined as needed.
There are many excellent examples of how this type of service promise can help to build a company. Perhaps the best-known is Domino’s Pizza. The concept was, if you called Domino’s for a pizza delivery, you’d have it in 30 minutes or less (this defined the company’s “great service” differentiator). Domino’s made that service proposition part of its advertising (offering proof with their written policy) and gave the customer a free pizza if delivery took longer than 30 minutes (the consequence for failure). This simple promise grew Domino’s from a single college-town pizza joint into one of the largest fast-food chains in America. Domino’s was eventually forced to drop this policy due to a couple of lawsuits resulting from overzealous delivery driving, but it’s still rare for a Domino’s pizza to take much longer than 30 minutes to arrive.
Let’s put the three-step process to work for a hypothetical business. Whenever I go new- car shopping, I always ask the salesperson, “Why should I buy my car here when there are several other dealers selling the same car?” The salesperson will enthusiastically reply that they have—you guessed it—great service. No sale. But what if the car dealer put some meat into the promise? What if the salesperson could honestly respond this way: “Because buying a car here gets you extra privileges in our service department. When a car that’s been purchased here is brought in for routine maintenance, we guarantee that the maintenance will be finished within X time or it’s free, no matter what. With or without an appointment, we also put you at the head of the line. Here’s a copy of our service policy.” Now there’s a service promise that means something.
Service promises don’t have to be elaborate. If your company gets a lot of phone calls for service or support, how about a promise that the phone will be answered by a real human being who is empowered to help? The cable TV company’s promise to send a technician to my house between 8 am and 6 pm doesn’t mean much to me, but the air conditioning repairman’s promise that he’ll be there at 4 pm “and if you don’t mind, allow me a half hour either way” does. Make it matter to your customers, and it’ll matter to you.
Of course, every business doesn’t necessarily have to have a service promise. Businesses that differentiate from their competition on price (like Walmart), by product (like Apple) or by emotional appeal (like a sports or entertainment business) don’t usually provide service promises, but if yours does, make sure to define it. Your salespeople and your customers will thank you.
Troy Harrison is a speaker, consultant and sales navigator helping companies build more profitable and productive sales forces. He is author of Sell Like You Mean It! and The Pocket Sales Manager, and a frequent speaker at The PPAI Expo and Expo East. To schedule a free 45-minute sales strategy review, call 913-645-3603 or e-mail Troy@TroyHarrison.com.