Make the Sales Process Resistance Free to be CompetitionProof

I’ve recently delivered a number of events to clients about selling big-ticket products to executives. The key concept: selling to executives is about minimizing their resistance to your message. If the sales pro says or does something that raises a red flag, the audience with the executive may terminate, with little chance of a repeat engagement. The best sales pros do this instinctively and the newbies learn it fast, albeit expensively.

Taking this a step further, you can apply this concept to anyone you sell to and increase your success. So, how can you minimize resistance to your message? Here are four strategies to make your discussions CompetitionProof.

1) Ask smarter questions.

So many canned sales questions are “Hey, Stupid” questions such as “Would you like to save 50 percent on your operating costs?” Only an idiot would say, “Let me think about that.” 

The question is manipulative, extracts no meaningful information, kills dialog, and makes the questioner look like a dope. And almost every sales hack asks the question. (You might want a tongue in cheek answer ready the next time you’re asked this question, such as, “No, we are only interested in saving 100 percent. Can you do that?”)

A much better way to make the same point is, “Our customers have discovered that they can slash operating costs by 50 percent with the method I propose to discuss with you. Is this something that you’d like to explore?”

Notice that we introduce the savings by reporting success that you’ve already achieved with customers, which increases your credibly and makes your assertion inarguable. Success stories and third party endorsements increase your persuasiveness and make your claims stick. This combination decreases resistance to your message.

2) Talk efficiently.

You only have to tell an executive something one time. They are expert at grasping the facts, a demand of their position. So practice your discussion to clearly and quickly make your point.

Understand the importance of BLOT (Bottom Line On Top) when talking with executives. This means starting with the conclusion and then moving through the supporting rationale. If you attempt to lead executives to a conclusion, you will create resistance that may result in dismissal before you’ve made your key point.

3) Talk articulately and with purpose.

Record your practice presentation and listen critically to your performance. Notice how many verbal fillers are you using, such as: like, OK, you know, um, at the end of the day, net net, bottom line, and other hackney, overused non-words. (Listening to a recent press conference, it seems that our Secretary of State is addicted to “um.”)

Practice again leaving out the fluff and fillers. Practice again until you can deliver your presentation cleanly.

Here’s why this is important: executives will never consider someone that would embarrass them in front of their peers or board of directors. This means that you must be polished and professional in your diction and discussion. (If you want to see an example of this in action, watch the classic movie, My Fair Lady.)

4) Deliver real thought leadership

Recently, my colleague, Jeanine Edwards asked, “What’s the statue of limitations on thought leadership?” The answer is, “About a week.” 

Although most sales professionals want to be trusted advisors, that position is earned by bringing fresh ideas and insights to executives at every meeting. Executives won’t bring sales pros into their inner circle until that pro can consistently show value to the exec’s organization and career. 

Ninety percent of CEOs come from a sales background (reported in Anthony Perinello’s excellent book, Selling to Vito). This means that executives have seen and used virtually every trick in the sales book. Don’t ever use the manipulative sales strategies frequently taught by sales trainers whose thought leadership expired decades ago.

What executives value is integrity and intelligence. You can’t fake either of those for long. Nor can you claim them: these are characteristics that are attributed to you after consistently demonstrating them. (Same for thought leadership, innovation, and charisma.)

You can develop thought leadership by following other though leaders and using them for inspiration. Start forecasting what will happen in your industry and hone your skills to identify trends that have impact on your customer’s business. Read new ideas daily and develop your talking points, keeping them fresh.

Pros Win, Bunglers Fail

Most sales professionals stumble on these points, overshadowing the excellence of their offering. I’m amazed that sales people work hard to get an executive audience yet put little effort into developing the message when they get the meeting. 

Use these ideas–and practice–so that when you speak with executives, you become CompetitionProof.

How to Leapfrog Your Competition: What You Can Learn from Apple

If you want to keep your competition out of the running, focus on leap-frogging them. This means you jump so far ahead of them that your customer has no interest in considering anyone else. That’s CompetitionProof!

A great example of this showed up this week. While teaching a sales training class, I noticed that three of the attendees were taking notes with Apple iPads and two attendees were using Apple MacBooks. A year ago, all the portable computers in the class would have been traditional laptops from HP, Lenovo (formerly IBM), or Dell with an occasional other brand.

Two of the iPad users were taking notes with a pen device and the third using a wireless keyboard. All of the Apple users spoke enthusiastically about their computers, appreciating the extensive battery life (while the other laptop users were looking for power), instant-on with no booting time, easy to use, and a bullet-proof system. None of them had Web connectivity problems because they had either brought their own cellular hot spot or had the cellular connection built in. One of the laptop users took almost five minutes to boot up and log on to the local WiFi connection. (Why do companies make it so difficult to log on to their “guest” WiFi access?)

Here’s the leap frog: while traditional laptop vendors focused on the technology–adding more speed, more memory, bigger screen size–Apple focused on how people use the technology–adding battery life, ease of use, quick Web connectivity, virtually bullet proof. (I have to buy anti-virus for my Windows machines. Not required for my Apple machines.)

Unless Apple severely stumbles, their customers are committed and wouldn’t consider another vendor. Until other laptop manufacturers can make a compelling case, Apple has the corner on this market.

But the compelling case won’t be based on technology or even price. Apple is the most expensive in the market for comparable performance and they still rule. For 100 percent of Apple’s market, price isn’t the deciding factor. For 85 percent of your market, price isn’t the deciding factor.

What I found interesting is that all of the non-Apple users were making excuses for why they hadn’t bought an Apple “yet.” Couldn’t justify it. Wanted to see what would happen with the new HP tablet and the new Blackberry Playbook tablet. Didn’t like that it wouldn’t play Adobe Flash video files. 

Meanwhile the Apple users were productive, happily living with the short comings to get the key benefits. And they are illustrating to their customers that they understand cutting edge technology.

Here’s why this is important: buyers want to do business with obviously successful sales people because they are doing something right. They are leery of underfunded, old-technology-toting sales people because they aren’t keeping up. So how can they help a customer select technology that’s going to make them competitive and profitable? If you don’t believe enough in new technology to own it, why should your customers believe in your new technology?

When you can show your customers how you leapfrog the other options, you become CompetitionProof.

Don’t Let the Recovering Economy Go to Waste: How to Make More Money Right Now

The official recession may be over, but predictions of a slow economic recovery are tempting some technology vendors, distributors, and their channel partners to say, “Wake me up when it’s over.” However, successful companies know that you don’t let a weak economy go to waste. 

Now is the time to re-evaluate pricing strategies, target the companies that are buying technology now, and invest in relationships with future buyers.

Raise Your Prices

Let’s look at pricing first. Many technology vendors and their channel partners cope with a downturn by slashing prices. For companies that need cash right now, that may be their only hope. However, cutting prices will create a long-term problem. Unless companies position their price cuts just right, customers will expect these lower prices next time they want to buy. It may be a challenge to raise them again when companies really need to.

That is why vendors and channel partners may be way better off raising prices instead of slashing them.

Imagine for a moment that a vendor’s channel partner is making a 20 percent margin. If either the vendor or the channel partner cuts the price by 10 percent — all other things being equal-that price reduction comes directly out of profits.

The partner will have to double sales to bring in the same amount of profit. However, how likely is it that anyone in the technology industry will be able to double sales with just a 10 percent decrease? Not very.

Now consider this: If channel partners increase their price by 10 percent — all other things being equal — that additional profit goes directly to the bottom line. One third of their sales can disappear before they lose the same amount of profit dollars compared to the lower price. And then vendors can make up the margin on the back end.

Will channel partners lose 33 percent of their customers with a 10 percent price increase? Probably not. Instead, they will establish value leadership in the market, critical for a profitable recovery.

Who’s Going to Buy Next?

Second is knowing who is either buying technology today or will be soon. Within companies, there are always departments that have budgets they must use.

Mission-critical systems for manufacturing, sales and customers service are required to maintain the business. In fact, service organizations often see an increase in demand because customers have time to follow up on open issues, choose to repair versus replace, and may not have in-house expertise because of staff reductions.

Aging infrastructure is another area. When system reliability is causing downtime, or products are at end-of-support life, vendors and their channel partners will find motivated buyers.

Look into data storage and archiving and disaster recovery requirements. After all, with disaster recovery, there’s a highly motivated management staff and an insurance check to spend.

Opportunities also exist with departments facing government-, industry-, or customer-mandated regulations. For these groups, waiting until tomorrow is rarely an option.

Certain industries also tend to continue buying throughout a weak economy. Healthcare is one of the strongest markets. People will always need health services, and it continues to be a growth industry with deep pockets. Other areas include the pharmaceutical industry, which takes a long-range view, and market sectors that provide the basic infrastructure services others need to run their businesses-such as legal firms, telecommunications (particularly wireless providers), and transportation companies.

Other markets are getting ready to spend funds as the economic turnaround begins to build steam. First are those taking advantage of government economic incentives, such as state and local education initiatives and civil engineering projects for road repairs, bridges, and other infrastructure.

Companies providing customer “must-haves” in green technology and services, entertainment, and cutting-edge communication are likely to invest in new technology soon as are start-up companies and entrepreneurs.

Re-engage With Buyers

The third important component is cultivating long-term customers — after all, how can you be viewed as a trusted advisor if the customer hasn’t seen you for months? 

If a customer says, “I don’t have any money to spend,” then ask, “When do you expect this to turn around?” If customers respond with an answer of less than six months, they have strong hope and are probably working out their next plans.

The follow-up question is one of the most powerful in sales. By asking “How can I help?,” companies open up opportunities to discuss options such as advantageous financing, trade-in towards purchase, manufacture refurbished items at lower cost, services contract consolidation, and off-season deals.

The magic of this response is that vendors and their channel partners can frequently find immediate sales opportunities during the plan review that the customer wasn’t even aware of.

The return to rapid market growth may be slow. However, through pricing strategies that strengthen value leadership, a strategic focus on markets current and emerging sales opportunities, and a commitment to cultivating long-term customers today, vendors and their channel partners can position themselves as leaders of tomorrow.

And when you do this, you’ll be CompetitionProof.

 

When Things Go Wrong: How to Stay CompetitionProof When You Fail

I had a recent situation where I wasn’t able to meet a commitment to my customers. It wasn’t completely my fault—a delayed flight because of weather meant I missed a remote training event that I was paid to deliver.

Yet it was my responsibility because I agreed to deliver the class and knew that I would be coming off of a flight 90 minutes before the event, not leaving a lot of margin for error. But arrogant confidence got the better of me and I didn’t make alternate arrangements. (I’ll tell you how it turned out later in this article.)

I want to share with you the seven things to do when you can’t keep your commitment to your customer. 

But first, a little background…

When I ask a group of sales professionals, “What do you think gets a buyer—someone who is in procurement—fired? What is their key performance indicator that if they keep it high, they stay in their job, but if it’s low, they get canned?”

Almost every group answers, “Paying too much!”

That’s a reasonable answer based on how buyers behave. They always act like they’ll lose their job if you don’t give them the best possible price and undercut the competition. Or at least that’s what they’re taught to do in negotiating classes. If you didn’t believe them, you’d never give them a better deal.

Reality is different. Buyers get fired if they are out of stock or can’t get delivery by their internal deadline because if the company doesn’t have what it needs to run their business, they’re out of business.

According to a survey by Laurence Steinmetz in his book “Selling at Prices Higher Then Your Competitors” (which, notably, costs more than other sales books of the same size), a buyer’s greatest fear is non-delivery. Eighty percent of buyers interviewed stated that they choose the vendor with the best delivery record. 

Think about it this way, a buyer never gets fired for paying too much, because if they did, the most expensive companies in the world would never get orders. Taking a page from IBM’s sales playbook, “No one has ever been fired for buying IBM.”

You can replace IBM with a wide variety of vendors: Cisco, HP, Xerox, AT&T, and so forth. Rarely are these vendors the cheapest and often they are the most expensive. Yet, they command the lion’s share of their market for their areas of expertise. Customers buy from these market—and price—leaders because they deliver every time!

This means that you have got to deliver when you promise or you lose credibility with your customer, damaging your critical relationship.

Your entire sales life, you’ve heard the phrase, “Under promise and over deliver.” I suggest that you take it a step further. “Promise what the customer needs, and over deliver on that.” 

Which brings me to the first point.

1) Make Room for Error

Make sure your delivery promise matches the customer’s requirements, with room to adjust it sooner or later if their situation changes. While many customers will do their best to make accurate delivery demands, if they’ve been burned before, they’ll require that you deliver sooner than they really need in response to the sins of other venders (hopefully not in reaction your transgressions.) 

Most prudent, experienced customers will include a time buffer for critical orders. And who could blame them; for example, expectant parents always set up the nursery months before the scheduled arrival date, just in case.

There are always flat tires, and someone gets sick, and a kid or three needs to go to the doctor. You’ve got to make room for life to happen. With that in mind, you’ll need some buffer.

2) What are the Options?

Brainstorm options to make the delivery schedule. What can you think of that could solve the problem? Explore other sources for the product or service, even if you might have to take a loss on the deal. Better to buy from a competitor and keep customer commitment than spoil your valuable relationship. Besides, your customer will be forced to buy from the competitor if you can’t deliver.

Or maybe you can hijack a demo unit for a couple of weeks.

Surely you can shuffle another customer delivery that has more slack in the schedule. What if you slipped the delivery for that customer that just called to say, “Can we push out delivery by a month?” Everybody’s happy with this outcome.

3) Alert the Boss

The instant you detect that there might be a delivery problem, let your management know. I learned early in my career to approach the boss with a list of options and an attitude of, “…and I’m open to other suggestions.” (Just a technical note: the word, alternative implies only two choices. That’s why I use the word, options instead of alternatives.)

Your manager often has solutions to problems that you haven’t yet faced—otherwise they wouldn’t be managers (theoretically). They might know an easy fix or have access to resources and contacts that you don’t (yet).

One of the things I’ve learned about management is that they hate surprises. If you wait until the last minute, they’ll have to scramble—reprioritizing elements that you don’t know about—and you’ll be tagged as a problem child (a career-killing label).

Give your manager breathing room and they can be their best. And when they’re their best, you make more money and get what you want in your career.

4) Communicate Now!

Communicate with the customer as soon as you can with your options. The sooner you let them know, the more breathing room they’ll have, and the better it will go for everyone. 

(In my case, the moment my delayed plane hit the ground, I unsuccessfully battled the iPhone browser to access my list server to alert my customers. I ended up crashing an airline-club WiFi connection to get on-line with my laptop. The alert hit their mailboxes two minutes before show time. I’m not trying to sound heroic, I sure learned from that experience!)

Although you might think it will be painful, I recommend the personal touch with a phone call. Most customers will really appreciate that you called to fill them in and in the face of trouble, you’ll reinforce your relationship.

An alternative is a well-written e-mail that outlines the situation and your solution. Keep in mind that email counts as a written communication in many courts of law, so make sure that you write in integrity, knowing that you’ll have to deliver on that promise, too. 

5) Increase Customer Comfort

If there are things that you can offer to improve your customer’s situation, find out what the customer thinks. That could bring them some comfort.

Don’t make your customer wrong and whenever possible, don’t make your customer take the hit. Your customer will go through their emotions ranging from disappointment to fear, so even though this is business, be prepared for something emotional to show up. 

It’s always wise to have your manager contact the customer to see if there is something that they can communicate to the customer’s boss. Don’t contact the customer’s boss without their permission! The customer may have reasons of their own to not let their boss know. Although for us, we know different.

6) Apologize Appropriately

After presenting the solution to your customer’s satisfaction, then it’s time to apologize for the inconvenience and hassle. Psychologically, until the customer can be receptive to an apology, saying, “I’m sorry” can cause more harm than good because it may come across as condescending.

Until they know that it’s going to work out, they will begrudgingly accept your apology because they are still injured. After they see that all is well, they can accept your apology and mean it. 

Saying, “I apologize for the inconvenience and heartburn this situation has created” acknowledges the damage done. But that’s not enough. The four most powerful words that begin to erase the effects of a mistake are, “Will you forgive me?”

The great thing about forgiveness is that once they do, they can’t bring it up again. It’s really cheesy to un-forgive someone.

7) Give Them Compensation

Compensate the customer for more than their loss.

My son, Harrison, yesterday told me a story about the restaurant where he works; it’s one of the city’s finest and a top pick for business dinners. A rogue waitress melted down and began to insult diners, being rude and unresponsive. The owner fired her on the spot after multiple complaints from diners, including hand-delivered, written feedback. Harrison had to clean it up with some of the diners. “We bought their entire dinner, and they still were unhappy,” he told me. Can you blame them? 

The real issue here is that social media accelerates the travel of bad news. If I “dis” a vendor on Facebook, hundreds of people find out about it. If I Tweet about it, thousands may take notice. That’s why you have to make it more than better immediately.

I recommend going beyond the customer’s loss and making them come out ahead because of the problem. In the case of the restaurant, after confirming that the paying party was a local, I would have pulled out my business card and hand write a coupon good for $100 at the bar valid for the next month. If they were from out of town, I would have written $25 bar tabs for the locals around the table. You’ve got to get them back for a great experience as soon as you can to erase the negative night out.

Why a bar tab? Because it’s the highest margin item in the restaurant which means the lowest cost to deliver the compensation. A $100 bar tab costs $25 to deliver and you save a client.

For other industries, it might be a free seat in a class that’s scheduled. It only incurs the cost of training materials and coffee yet delivers a lot of value to the customer and creates the opportunity to create a most positive outcome.

In the case of IT, I recommend looking for a high margin consumable, such as supplies, accessories, and upgrades. They’ll have a better experience because of the failure and you’ll ultimately benefit.

Airlines have been good at this in the case of denied boarding by giving away free air travel and still getting you to your destination, usually in a first class seat (ask the gate agent for a inconvenience upgrade).

So how much should you spend to compensate them? That depends on how valuable they are. At the very least, you should be willing to spend what it takes to get a new customer. You can calculate this by dividing your marketing budget by the number of new customers you get from that budget. For example, if you spend $5,000 to get 50 customers, you should be willing to spend at least $100 ($5000/50) to keep a customer. Some would argue that it’s worth more than that. Leave that to your boss to determine what’s the right number.

When you choose to use these tactics to implement a perfect-delivery-record strategy, you’ll find that you can easily recover from a mis-delivery, cementing your relationship with your customer and creating a CompetitionProof customer environment.

Featured Link: Get the Secrets to More Sales Right Now

Seth Godin: How should you treat your best customers?

From Seth Godin’s latest blog post. I totally love it!

How should you treat your best customers?

Here’s what most businesses do with their best customers: They take the money.

The biggest fan of that Broadway show, the one who comes a lot and sits up front? She’s paying three times what the person just three rows back paid.

That loyal Verizon customer, the one who hasn’t traded in his phone and has a contract for six years running? He’s generating far more profit than the guy who switches every time a contract expires and a better offer comes along.

Or consider the loyal customer of a local business. The business chooses to offer new customers a coupon for half off—but makes him pay full price…

If you define “best customer” as the customer who pays you the most, then I guess it’s not surprising that the reflex instinct is to charge them more. After all, they’re happy to pay.

But what if you define “best customer” as the person who brings you new customers through frequent referrals, and who sticks with you through thick and thin? That customer, I think, is worth far more than what she might pay you in any one transaction. In fact, if you think of that customer as your best marketer instead, it might change everything.

____________________

And that’s the customer you want to make CompetitionProof!

Thank you, Seth!

 

CompetitionProof on BlogTalk Radio Show Playback

Join us as I’m interviewed by Dan Alcorn on BlogTalk Radio.

This is from Dan’s program description:

CompetitionProof means that you create a customer relationship that is so strong that there is no viable alternative to you and your company. My guest will be Mark S. A. Smith, co-author of “Guerrilla TeleSelling,” “Guerrilla Tradeshow Selling” and “Guerrilla Negotiating.” In this segment, we’ll talk about Mark’s forthcoming book: “CompetitionProof: How to protect your accounts from competitive attack.

Click below to listen to the show!

Listen to internet radio with DGAlcorn Associates on Blog Talk Radio

 

How to Use Your Competitors to Your Advantage

How do you feel about your business rivals? Do you loath them, looking for ways to stick it to them every chance you get? Or do you view them as a resource that can increase your success?

I’d like you to consider taking the second position. Instead of wasting your energy feeling negative, pull a switch and look at them as something of value for you to use. This may take some doing, yet consider these ideas.

Reverse Role Models

Look at what they do that you DON’T want to do. It could be how they treat their customers or their billing methods. It could be the level of cleanliness or the quality of their facilities. It could be their lackadaisical culture or their primitive packaging.

Check out the competitive position by having your people secret shop your rivals. They will play the role of a customer and experience what it’s like to do business with the competitor. Then have your people report what they’ve learned. Ask them to present to the team these realizations:

  • What the competitive company did well is…
  • What didn’t work is…
  • What we should steal…

You might be surprised at how fast this strategy can get your team to make adjustments to their attitude and behavior to more CompetitionProof.

Copy Their Strengths

Take a close look at how your competitors find customers and why customers do business with them. How do they prospect for business? 

You can discover this by asking your customers about their experiences with your competitors. 

Ask questions like,

  •  ”Who else do you talk with?” 
  • “How do they make contact with you?” 
  • “What do you find interesting about them?” 
  • “What do you find un-interesting about them?”

Look for ways to improve on what they do best and avoid what customer’s don’t like, and you’re instantly more CompetitionProof.

Give Them Customers You Don’t Want

We all have customers that are more trouble than they’re worth. They’re demanding, insulting, and cheap. They pay late or pay short. There are always problems with their order and it’s never their fault. These are the perfect customer for your competitors. You have someone in mind, don’t you.

There are three ways to get rid of troublesome customers. First, raise your prices. It’s most likely that they will go away, but if they do stay it may now be worth it to take care of them. Second, increase your delivery time. “I can get that for you next year.” And third, tell them that you’re not the right company to take care of them.

The seasoned sales professionals in my seminars will tell me that they carry their competitor’s business cards with them for customers such as these. They’ll say, “I can’t serve you in the way that you truly deserve to be served. I suggest you talk with this outfit.”

Think about it this way: the best way to drive your competitor out of business is to give them all of the unprofitable business.

With your headache customers gone, you now have energy and time to find new and better patrons that will be more appreciative and more profitable.

Featured Link: Looking for more customers?

Spare Capacity for When You Can’t Deliver

When you’re CompetitionProof, there will come a time when you will have more demand than can supply. This is the perfect time to subcontract with your competitor. After all, if you can’t deliver, your customer is going to go to your competitor anyway, so you might as well retain control of the relationship and keep the profits.

If you see this situation coming, create an agreement with your competitor about how they’ll interact with your customer, protecting your relationship and keeping your “secret sauce” confidential. As a side benefit, you’ll get to see how their people work and might be able to poach some of their best.

An alternate tactic is to offer your customer an incentive to come back to you. For example, when a restaurant is full and customers don’t want to wait, give them a coupon for free dessert redeemable in the next two weeks. Oh yah, they’ll be back.

Inspiration for New Ideas

All of us get so buried in our business that sometimes we lose sight of what we should be doing next. Being CompetitionProof means delivering what the customer needs even before they think that they need it. And a great source of inspiration can be your competitors.

Have you noticed that your rivals become quite generous with their ideas at industry events, such as conferences and trade shows? This is the perfect place to pick brains for trends. Just buy them a drink and ask what they see in their crystal ball.

You might be delighted at the ideas that you come up with based on your discussion.

 

Kick Off Your Successful CompetitionProof New Year

What are you going to do to make sure that your new year is the best that it can be? How are you going to capitalize on the New Economy and be CompetitionProof?

Get Educated

I suggest that you get your competitive edge by focusing on your education. With the poor economy, most people and companies have deferred education or scaled way back. It’s time to reverse that trend.

Sales guru Brian Tracy suggests investing three percent of your income into self development and points out that it will return the highest return of any investment you’ll make.

I agree with him.

Pay it Forward

The next step is to educate your customer. The most dangerous thing to your competitor is a customer who’s educated. Transfer what you’ve learned to your customer.

To get you started, here’s a one-hour program that I delivered earlier this year to an audience of IT sales professionals in Orlando. It’s loaded with CompetitionProof ideas that I know that you can use.

I’ve posted links for all of the recordings mentioned in the audio on this page for your convenience. The link referenced in the program is no longer active.

I wish you a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

And let me know what you think!

Additional resources mentioned in the program

Get More Business Just By Speaking

Trade Show Secrets and 10 Things Most Companies Do at Trade Shows

Referral Magic and How to Write Letters that Make Your Phone Ring

 

 

 

Change the Competitive Game with Speed

Can you change the competitive game by moving faster?

In the December 2, 2010 New York Times Magazine, Michael Sokolove writes a stunning article, Speed-Freak Football about the University of Oregon’s football team using a speed-play strategy to win football games. The Oregon Ducks don’t just beat their opponents, they embarrass them off the field, winning by up to five touchdowns.  

Ducks head coach, Chip Kelly uses a rapid-fire spread offense that eliminates the huddles and essentially exhausts the opposition by keeping them running the entire game. The team can start a new play as quickly as five seconds after the previous play ended confounding and draining the competition. Often their playing speed limit is how fast the officials can move the down marker chain.

Through 10 games so far, they are unbeaten and averaged 50.7 points a game. The article is a fascinating read about Kelly has transformed the way that the team practices and communicates to create this massive change in how football is played.

In bringing speed to the game, they have become CompetitionProof.

In business, speed wins. If your quality, selection, customer service, and price are equal to your competitors, response time breaks the tie. Whoever is fastest to respond gets the deal. In a competitive environment, rapid response time can correct for competitive defects like a higher price.

You might be thinking, yes, but if I respond too fast, my customer will think it’s easy for me to do, or I have lots of inventory, so I should charge less. You might get a cheap customer to say that, but the vast majority of customers want speedy response and are even willing to pay extra for expedited service.

Consider the magician’s principle: “Make the easy things look difficult and difficult things look easy.” That’s what customers pay for and pay well for.

How can you transform how you approach your business and your customer to increase speed to respond and deliver? It may require altering how you get things done, yet it’s completely worth it if you can change the game to be truly CompetitionProof.

Creating Value and Selling Against Higher Price Competition

How do you remain CompetitionProof in the face of lower-price competition? In these days of increasing competition, it seems that we all face more price competition.

The way to combat lower-priced competition is to clearly establish your value with your customer. That means first understanding what is valuable to your customer and then making sure that they know that you deliver that value.

Next, you need to be able to resist the pricing pressure by responding to the typical negotiating strategies that customers have been taught. You need to use anti-negotiation tactics.

I just delivered a one hour program on these topics to an IT-focused client in Las Vegas and I think you’ll appreciate these CompetitionProof ideas. 

Download the handout and listen to the audio. (Yes, I know the audio is not the best quality, but it’s good enough for you to get the key points.)

Listen and become CompetitionProof.

Here’s the program description:

If you’re like most resellers, you’ve noticed increasing pricing pressures. It’s coming from customers with smaller budgets, from other resellers with shrinking sales, and from other channels who want your customers. It sometimes feels like you can’t get paid what you’re worth. 

If you’re going to prosper and grow, you’ve got to be able to position yourself, your company, and your solutions in a new way, helping your customer see the real value that you bring to the table. In this session you’ll discover how. Here are the topics you’ll learn about: 

·         Creating Real Customer Value: Each customer sees value in a slightly different way. Learn how to identify what’s valuable and what to charge for it. Many sales people miss this one and pay for it in lower-priced sales.

·         How to Position and Defend Your Value: Although you may have a strong position, you’ll have to defend it. You’ll discover how.

·         Why it’s Not Really About Price: Learn why customers really use price as a negotiating weapon and how to turn that to your advantage.

·         When and How to Fire Customers: The fastest way to find better customers is to fire your worse ones. You’ll know how to identify them, how to move them on, and how to replace them.

·         How to Make Your Prices Stick: What you can do to make your quotes become highly resistant to downward price negotiations. Use this strategy on your next deal to keep your prices intact.