We’ve all heard the expression, “There is a difference between wants and needs.” For example, your kids ‘want’ the latest and greatest electronic, but do they ‘need’ it? The same concept applies to a number of distributor sales managers. They want new accounts and believe that customers need their services.
That’s the conversation I had with a distributor developing their 2020 sales and marketing strategy. The strategy focuses on offering differentiated services based upon customer commitment from the prior year. The strategy was originally conceived as an initiative to increase market share within key/committed accounts and, through greater value, gain greater loyalty. It’s a great idea, as to increase market share it requires further account penetration. The distributor’s strategy has initiatives to drive this.
So, along comes the sales manager who 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 a Want?
To acquire new customers, it infers that:
- They are aware of you;
- Know your value;
- And they don’t know anywhere else they can purchase the materials you offer.
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;
- Proving how you can make them more effective, based upon their definition of effective;
- Being consistent;
- Reminding them of your value to them.
Also see: “Convenience Will Deliver Sales and Loyalty.”
And yes, sometimes it helps when the competition makes an error. Remember the old Avis motto, “We try harder?” Sometimes you need to be satisfied being No. 2, as you’ll become No. 1 through hard work as well as the inevitable error in service from the incumbent.
The First Step: Showing Interest
- 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.” Through this consistency, you develop solid personal relationships. 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 their 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. This begs the question: Could your salespeople do an elevator pitch on “why you?” Could they explain why in 15 minutes?
Think of the airlines. For the most part, all of them are the same. Why do people want to support one versus another? We need to travel. We choose which one we want to fly with and, especially for business travelers, it’s because of the service levels we’ve earned (not the points!).
David Gordon is the president of Channel Marketing Group and has worked with companies in multiple industries on marketing strategy and execution, organizational and culture development, internal communications, employee motivation and change management. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.