Love as a Competitive Advantage

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Have you ever asked yourself, “How do I get people to buy what I’m selling?” Asks author, consultant, trainer and speaker, John Chappelear. The tougher and more appropriate question is, “How do I get people to buy what I’m selling, FROM ME?” That is always the question to answer when you are trying to develop any sales or external relationship. 

Why you? Why not someone else? This is also true with management or internal relationships because a major part of a manager’s job is to sell the companies mission, vision and values to its employees.

Your marketing plan should emphasise the competitive strengths that set you apart. The more prospects you draw by differentiating yourself, the more relationships you can start. The more relationships you start, the more sales you can make.  So, what is your sales and marketing strategy?  You can, of course, attempt to be the lowest-cost provider in your market (stack it high, price it low, watch it go).  But there is only one lowest-cost provider per market. Everyone else is losing margins trying to over-take that company. If you are not the lowest-cost provider, or attempting to be one, then you are probably marketing your products based on better customer service, instead of price. Many of your competitors are doing likewise.

A friend who also works with sales companies always says, “if you have a check list of all the stuff a client wants from you and you do them all perfectly, you have a chance to continue as the supplier.  And if you don’t, you won’t.  It’s as simple as that.”  So what do we do?

Create a marketing plan from a concentric perspective. Don’t focus on what can you get, but what can you give. In my book The Daily Six, I define “love” as understanding the needs of others and treating those needs as important as if they were my own. That is concentric perspective. In business relationships this means focusing away from your products or your needs. Focus instead on your client’s success.

Using a concentric perspective moves you out of the traditional client-supplier relationship, taking you from value-added to love-added.

Become an asset to your client’s success regardless of their commitment to you. As you become seen as a valuable asset, you will be someone the client will want to have around. A friend who sells a mundane commodity exemplifies the benefits of concentric perspective. Until he fought back with a love-added strategy, he was losing clients and profits to competitors who were using low-ball pricing. He began to focus on the client. More specifically, he focused on the people, not the company itself. He determined what he could do to make their lives both personally and professionally easier. In one case, he helped the company change an organisational process that saved them thousands of hours and millions of dollars.  When that client got ready to budget for the next year, my friend was not only the chosen supplier but he was also hired as a consultant to help them work through a number of other issues.

Now it should be clear that love-added is not taking someone to a ball game or out for a round of golf. It goes much deeper. This is a connection that comes from open and honest sharing and supportive action.

When was the last time you had a meeting with a client that focused on their needs and their successes and not on you or your products?  What are their needs?  How can you help them become more successful? What books or articles have you recently read that will help them with a challenge? What do you know, or whom do you know, that might help them achieve their goals and thereby make their jobs easier? You should ask these questions as part of your marketing plan. In a tight market, you must create a level of understanding and connection with your client that let’s you and your people deliver the only product or service that the competition can’t duplicate, YOU.

A love-added, concentric perspective will change your focus, from your wants to their needs. Love-added will strengthen your willingness to learn and make you dramatically more connected to your clients, employees and prospects. Love-added will make you a very complicated (and difficult to copy) competitor. Next time someone asks, “Where’s the love?” you can say, “right here!”

About John Chappelear

Chappelear is internationally recognised as expert in corporate culture, life balance and leadership. He is the author of The Daily Six, the winner of the Best Book award from USA BookNews. For more information on how John can help you and your organisation or to sign up for our free Positive Thoughts for the Week (PTW) please visit the website: www.changingthefocus.com

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