They are more just "nice" services, they are essential to meet new demands of selling as the differentiators between competitive products move more to intangible features.
These days, when your product has a unique feature it often does not stay unique for long. One lens manufacturer told me that just few years ago a new feature would give them a sales advantage of four to five years. Today, that is down to about 8 months. With faster design and manufacturing techniques, the increasing software content of products, and outsourcing, competitors can replicate competitive advantage quickly.
But there are many less tangible features that can brought into the sales process when measured. Features like brand presence among a clients's customers, comparative customer service, reputation for innovation, ROI among existing customers, and long term product durability, are sustainable features easily measured.
Most salespeople “document” competitive advantage with enthusiasm, selected anecdotes, and relationship building. But imagine if you could document your product's advantages in the ways listed above. You could leave your relationship selling competition in the dust. It works, I’ve done it.
Before you start using Personal Sales Surveys to prove a competitive advantage, you need to be sure you have a measurable advantage.
The first step is to list the buying criteria active in your market that affect your product. They can be product speed, durability, customer service, etc. Next, survey your market to measure which of these criteria your product dominates. In most markets different products have different advantages and it is rare for one product to dominate all.
In addition, you need to know why the buying criteria your product dominates in, is important to buyers.
If you discover that your product has no measurable advantage against competition, you no longer have a sales problem; you have a product or marketing problem.
But let’s say you have a measurable advantage in product durability. When surveyed, 43% of past customers say your product held up best over the past 5 years, 20% say your next closest competitor did, and the other 10 players in your market fight for single digit scores.
If a buyer believes that product durability is the most important buying criteria you can prove your advantage using a Personal Sales Survey. Easy.
But what if the buyer believes a different criteria is more important.
Then, you shift gears and use a Personal Sales Survey to document the importance of product durability specific to his situation.
Ask your client's customers:
How long have you owned these different products?
How long did each one last?
How did not having to replace the longer lasting ones save time?
How much money did you save by having a product last longer?
Having lived with these products for five years which product would you buy again?
Now, the Personal Sales Survey measures experiences that support the case for product durability. By bringing these measurements forward you can show your client that product durability might be more important than he or she assumed.
Often, claims of intangible advantages are met with skepticism among buyers. "You say your product will last longer, have a better ROI, or has better customer support than your competition. How can you prove this?"
There is always a way to measure some relevant audience, somewhere, that has had experience with the range of competitive products.
Buyers today want more proof and less lunches. Personal Sales Surveys can help you deliver.