03Sep

You Need to Differentiate Yourself: 3 MORE Ways to Do it (Part II)

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It’s a highly competitive world out there.  And in a slow economy, like we are currently experiencing, you have a lot of businesses that are willing to deeply discount their services to win new business.  It’s important to be able to stand out from the crowd when pitching your products and services to clients.  And most importantly, it’s critical to provide amazing customer service to keep your existing customers.  In Part I of this 2-Part blog series, I mentioned: 1) knowing your competition 2) being a “peace of mind” differentiator, and 3) being a “business driver” differentiator as 3 key ways to differentiate your business and drive sales (click here to read Part I of this blog series).  In Part II of “You Need to Differentiate Yourself,” I’ll provide more tips that I have come across over the years on how to effectively differentiate yourself from the competition.

1) Deliver excellent service.  This point seems so obvious that it’s easy to assume that delivering excellent service goes without saying.  But, while most people will say it, very few actually do it.  To do it you need a recorded, repeatable, process.  And it doesn’t matter if you’re a one-person shop or a 3000 person shop, if you don’t have a process for delivering excellent services you’re probably not doing it as often as you think.  The reason I say this is because part of your process should be a customer feedback mechanism so you’re hearing from your customers exactly what they think about your service.  And if you’re not asking, you really don’t know.  You want to have a process from the beginning of your sales cycle to the end of your delivery cycle.  Your customers will see that you have a process and this by it’s very nature gives the impression of a quality, mature business and not only checks the box for the “peace of mind differentiator” but also boosts your value in the customer’s mind.  Everyone in your organization needs to be educated on the process, not just their part, but also the part of the process they interact with.  Leveraging this process will make it easy to not only hire new staff, but to replace staff easier when performance issues cannot be resolved.  The key, however, is to have a process that is “customer-centric” and ensures excellent customer service.  This will generate positive reviews, word of mouth business, and you’ll find the biggest differentiator you can build is an enthusiastic customer.

2) Always be in a learning mode.  Business moves fast.  In order to stay on top of the pace of change, you have to constantly be in learning mode.  The key to the process mentioned above is that you’re always looking for ways to improve it.  This means you’re doing on-going competitive analysis.  You want to stay on top of the changes your competitors are making as well as new competitors that are up and coming in your industry.  Some of the best marketing campaigns you can do are when your competitors screw up.  They come out with a new version of a product and force their customers to pay a ton of money to upgrade.  Jump on that.  Or, more locally, you will find out a competitor loses one of their key employees.  Reach out to their repeat customers that you are aware of and try to win their business.  It is also very important to continue to listen and learn from customers and prospects what they are looking for.  Be on the cutting edge of trends and you can incorporate those into your process and convert more sales.  In a large organization you may have a team of people designated in this function. This team may compile information and provide ongoing educational brown bag seminars for the sales team, as an example.  In a smaller organization it is probably something that the owner or principal in the business is doing.

3) Connect with your network.  Lastly, participate in networks of where people who do what you do hang out.   These can be local meeting groups.  For example, in the Government Contracting space there is an organization called AFCEA.  It’s a great organization where members share ideas, opportunities, interact with customers via presentations and educational opportunities, and more.  Find out if your industry has such an organization and become a part.  Not only do you build great relationships, but more importantly, you’ll learn more about what is working in your industry and you’ll also know which of your competitors is as progressive and forward thinking as you are.

The takeaway from this 2-Part blog series is that it’s critical to be unique and differentiate yourself from the competition.  However, you want to strategically do it with items of importance to the customer.  Don’t over-invest in “peace of mind differentiators,” as they are simply threshold checkboxes for your customer.  Either you have these differentiators or you don’t.  Once a customer knows you are credible and you have met their threshold, you’re not going to get extra credit bonus points.  Focus your attention on the differentiators that make a difference in the customer’s buying equation.  What are they willing to pay more for?  What are they willing to take less or more risk for?  You can build these items into a sales and delivery process now and start to kick your competitors’ butt!

Ready to differentiate your business?  It will surely give you a leg up on the competition.  Be sure to check out Part I of “You Need to Differentiate Yourself” blog series.  Check back often and sign-up for our newsletter so you don’t miss any future posts about being a Jesus Led Business and other actionable steps to help drive your business.

And, in the meanwhile, continue to… Pray About It, Be About It, and Praise About It!

Thanks for reading and God Bless.

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