You’ve heard the story, “there is a difference between wants and needs.” For example, especially this time of year you hear one parent say to the other “the kids ‘want’ the latest and greatest electronic, but do they ‘need’ it?”
The same occurs with a number of distributor sales management. They “want” new accounts and believe that customers “need” them.
Yes, I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s the conversation I had with a distributor last week.
We’re in the midst of developing their 2020 sales and marketing strategy. It focuses on offering differentiated services based upon customer commitment from the prior year. Consider like the airline frequent buyer programs. Through your commitment to an airline (some call it loyalty) you earn different levels of benefits. Some companies use merchandise rewards as the benefit (remember the toaster oven days … spend money and get a toaster oven?), some provide rebates (which are easily matched) and a growing number of companies are recognizing that more and more customers are valuing services (different services, sometimes discounted services).
The strategy was originally conceived as an initiative to increase market share within these key / committed accounts and, through greater value, gain greater loyalty.
Great idea as to increase market share it requires further account penetration (and the strategy has initiatives to drive this).
So, along comes the sales manager and says “This is great. I can use this to acquire new customers.”
And here is where the challenge comes in.
Acquiring Customers … a Need or Want
To acquire new customers (and we’ll use contractors as an example) it infers that:
- They are aware of you
- Know your value
- And don’t know anywhere else they can purchase electrical materials.
Yes, you can earn new business. Yes, you can target prospects to acquire. But the key to remember is that these PROSPECTS DON’T NEED YOU. Why, because they are already having their needs, to some level, satisfied. They are buying material from someone else.
Your challenge is how to get them to WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH YOU.
Achieving this requires earning their business by:
- Showing interest
- Showing how you deliver greater value in service, and services, than your competition
- How you can make them more “effective” based upon their definition of “effective”
- Reminding them of your value to them
And yes, sometimes it helps when the competition makes an error. Remember the Avis motto of “we try harder”. Sometimes you need to be “satisfied” being #2 as you’ll become #1 through hard work as well as the inevitable error in service from the incumbent.
The first step
- You have a value proposition beyond the basics (unless your basics are so good that they are your value proposition.)
- You have an outbound sales development effort that is trained to communicate your value proposition
- You promote your value proposition that you promote (yes, forms of marketing / advertising do work)
- You value yourself
Prospects don’t need you. You want them to want to do business with you. And you want your existing customers to want to do more business with your because “you are that good.” And through this consistency you develop solid personal relationships and this becomes “socialized business” which creates a moat around the business you have with the customer (but don’t take them for granted.)
One of your biggest competitors is inertia. Prospects are already purchasing electrical material from someone. They don’t have a “need” to change. It’s your job to create a reason for them to “want” to change. (Which begs the question, could your salespeople do an “elevator pitch” on “why you?” Could they explain in 15 minutes?)
Remember, for the most part all of the airlines are the same. Why do people WANT to support one versus another? We need to travel. We choose whom we want to fly with … and, especially for business travelers, it’s because of the service levels we’ve earned (not the points!)