Robert-photo-w-icon-150-4-7-10-FINAL4-150x150Conversations with new prospects initially focus on what you have to offer. Their first priority is to learn if your business is credible and can fulfill their requirements. What happens next determines if you will gain preference versus your competitors.

Once your business is validated as a potential supplier, you get to turn the dialogue towards “why” you are the best possible supplier. Prospects become customers once they discover “why” you seek their business – the right “why” response begins the trust building process so they care more about “why” you want to work with them than “what” you do.

They want to buy the “why” – your commitment, your uncommon promise – rather than your product or service. If it’s just another transaction for you, then fine, they’ll deal with you like they would any other commodity. If you do most of the talking, describing how you are much better, quicker or cheaper than your competitors, then they will recognize you as a commodity business. If you do get the order after following this process, then expect to resell yourself all over again next time and be prepared to offer an even better deal for them. They know you don’t care about their business – you care about yours.

It’s true that some customers will always treat their suppliers like commodities, but it’s your choice to get categorized as such. You choose to be a commodity business. Increasingly, organizations are again realizing that the right supplier can consistently contribute to their success. If you seek to earn preference, then your task is to convince them that you are more interested in helping them make money than you are in taking their money, and making that case begins by correctly answering “why.”

When it’s your turn to steer the dialogue with a new prospect, start asking questions. If they don’t learn that you care about their business, then they won’t care about your offering. Be prepared with some knowledge about their business. Seek to learn more about their current circumstances, how they want to grow and what goals they seek to achieve. Ask what’s constraining their progress. Listen more…talk less. When you return to deliver your proposal, describe how the benefits you produce are aligned with the achievement of their goals.

Your prospect will become your customer when they recognize they you can produce more strategic value than anyone else. It’s that recognition that creates a compelling, emotional connection and the beginning of and enduring relationship.

How does your sales team respond to inquiries from prospects?  

What process do you use to earn preference vs. competitors?

Defeat Commoditization – Be Preferred!
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