In competitive markets the differentiation of products and services is challenging, with many consumers not able discern a noticeable difference.
This leads to commoditization and the aggressive price competition that naturally follows.
The solution is to develop a process that profiles the unique characteristics and capabilities of your company – then lead your selling with your process while using it to guide the efforts of your team.
Since most small businesses do not have a carefully designed and orchestrated sales process, yours may well become the ultimate differentiator.
When other companies are selling products, yours will stand out by taking the refreshing approach of selling how your business serves its customers.
Your Business Process Builds Confidence
Before buyers will engage in commercial transactions they want to know more about your business, and especially if it is capable of satisfying their needs and desires.
If your business has a process for creating exceptional customer experiences, it instantly becomes more attractive than its competitors. At the very least, this gives you a shot at every buyer’s business.
One of the greatest challenges for any small business is attracting the attention of buyers. In a world where free and easy access to information and pricing encourages commoditization, the one thing that can differentiate your business is how you work.
Zappos is known for having a culture that makes buying shoes and other retail items a delightful experience. Go ahead and pick up the phone and call them to see for yourself. There is no pressure at all to buy – just focused customer service to help you make a decision that is right for you.
Isn’t that what every buyer wants?
Refining Your Business Process
While a some people may initially disagree, the truth is potential buyers want businesses to take control of the selling process. This is only possible if your business has a process in place that leaves no doubt as to what is going to happen next, starting from the very first encounter.
While operating the landscape business that I founded, it took some time to develop a reliable process for selling high-end residential landscape projects because every client and project was unique. Also, the practices that other businesses used focused on products, as opposed to the project design, which we believed was more relevant.
We indeed lost some viable prospects in the early stages by focusing on design because buyers were more interested in our products. However, by debriefing every single client meeting our process began to come together. Then selling became much easier – and a lot more fun.
To get started, I suggest listing your top 20 most successful projects, transactions, or business relationships, and break them down to reconstruct exactly what happened. Then contrast and compare to find the similarities and patterns that led to your success.
Embedded within your business successes is your natural sales process. It takes time to analyze it, and even more to orchestrate it into a flawless series of steps that actually becomes a guidance system for getting and keeping your sales team on track.
When you do that, you learn how to reliably earn the confidence of your buyer – right up to when you consummate the sale.
Name and “Sell” Your Business Process
What does it mean to sell the process?
First name your process to make it uniquely yours, and also create a graphic representation or “logo” of it to make it more tangible.
Our landscape process was The Intelligent Landscape System™. The word intelligence suggested we were taking a smarter approach, but in reality it also referred to understanding and working with the “Intelligence of Nature.”
Quite simply, when everyone else is selling their stuff, there is little or no differentiation, other than price of course.
However, for the buyer especially, it is refreshing when the business takes a different approach, by explaining how they can work together with buyers to take them on an enjoyable ride.
When you focus on the process that provides an exceptional experience for your buyer, the sale of products and services naturally become a byproduct.
It’s a new way of selling that happens to work nicely.
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)
Learn more about Jeff’s live programs on relationship selling for small business.