June 12, 2014
3 Strategies to Stand Apart From the Crowd
by Steve Kloyda
Are you asking the same questions your competition is asking? You will never stand out, and the prospect will gravitate to the cheapest price.
“A commodity is any good, service or product that can be produced by any number of firms, and the only distinguishing feature between these firms is who can do it the cheapest. Having your service or product being turned into a commodity is no fun because it means your profit margins will become razor thin, you will have dozens of competitors and all you can do every day is make that product or service cheaper and sell more of it than the next guy, or die.” from Thomas Friedman’s book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree.
How competitive is your business?
What are you doing to separate yourself from the competition?
Seth Godin talks a lot about being remarkable so that you stand out like a purple cow. What would happen if you saw a purple cow? You would stop and take notice, wouldn’t you?
Are you asking the same questions your competition is asking? If so, you will never differentiate yourself. When you act and sound like your competition, the prospect or customer will always gravitate to the cheapest price.
The best way to get to the core of your prospects thought process is by asking questions that allows them to think about their key issues differently. When prospects think about their key issues differently, the solutions become obvious. Stop telling your prospect or client what your product or service will do for them. Ask them!
Let me share with you a couple of examples:
Commercial Insurance: “What strategies have you implemented that will reduce your exposure to risks you may be unaware of?”
Investment Adviser: “What steps have you taken that provide you with fiduciary risk protection?”
HR Consultant: “What ideas or strategies do you have to reduce key employee turnover and increase employee satisfaction?”
Asking this type of a question allows the prospect or client to come to his own conclusion.
Stop telling. Stop doing a feature dump all over your prospects. Start asking what I call “opportunity questions.” It is easy to create an “opportunity question.” Take the problems that you solve or the pain you eliminate and create a question. With each one of the questions above I have identified a key problem and created a question.
Recently, I was listening to The New Business Podcast by Chis Ducker. He talked about how, when he started out, there was a ton of competition. He wondered: How am I going to build this business with so much competition? Then he realized there was no one like him on the planet. That was his competitive edge.
I have said this for years. You are the product. People buy from you. Yes, you may represent a company or brand, but, at the end of the day, if people didn’t like and trust you they would buy from you. It’s that simple.
So the question then becomes… What can you do to be remarkable and stand out.
It’s in the details. It’s the small things that you do in life that make the big difference and make you remarkable.
Three Strategies You Can Implement Now
Show up on time
Example: I had an appointment last winter that depended on my being there. We were in the middle of a snowstorm. On a good day it would have been a 35-minute drive. I left an hour and 45 minutes early to make sure I wasn’t late. It took me about an hour. I was 45 minutes early. To many people, that seems like a waste of time, but I got caught up on email and got ready for the appointment. No matter where I go, I always have something with me to do.
When you tell someone you are going to do something, follow through.
Example: A while back, I got a call from a sales rep. What he was selling was very interesting and would help my online business. At the end of the conversation, I told him I was interested. Could he email me something and follow up. “Sure.” Last week, I received another call. No email. I checked junk mail. I checked everything because I was interested. “Please send again.” To this day, I have received nothing.
Say thank you in style
Send hand-written thank you notes. I know what you are thinking. I don’t have time. Email is faster. My handwriting is terrible. But you don’t have time not to send handwritten thank you notes.
What would happen if you sent one thank you note a day Monday to Friday over the next 12 months? That would be 260.
That would cost you a few hours a year, but wouldn’t that make you look remarkable? Wouldn’t handwritten notes make you stand out? In the 24/7 fast pace world that we live in…of course you would stand out.
So, go the extra mile. Do more than you are paid for. As Zig Ziglar says, “There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile.”
Are you going the extra mile to stand apart from the competition?