Gaining the Competitive Edge

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Regardless of business size, from sole trader to multinational organisations, we are all looking for that Unique Selling Point (USP) that defines us from our competitors, gives us a leading edge and increases our sales leverage.

But what exactly is it that differentiates you from everybody else; why should customers choose your product or service over your competitors?

Gaining competitive edge can create huge benefits for your business, and in this challenging new economy we are all keen to take advantage of every opportunity to help us get ahead.

What if I told you that gaining the competitive edge isn’t as difficult as you might have imagined and that I could help your business set itself apart and achieve:

  • A loyal customer base

  • Increased efficiency

  • Reduce costs

  • Lower risks

  • Improved networks

  • Increased revenue


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Would you be interested in finding out more?

My name is Fiona Bradley, Director of Fiona Bradley Consulting and I have trained in excess of 2,000 people in the last 18 months in how to work towards delivering excellence in business. I am a fully accredited CIPD trainer with over 23 years expertise in delivering dynamic, innovative and current training programmes designed to create positive change within businesses, enabling business leaders and staff to move their business forward.

Over the next 4 months I will share with you my simple 4 themed process to help you move towards excellence and build a stronger, more reputable and sustainable business.
Each theme is interdependent, not independent, and so in order to achieve maximum success you should look to incorporate all elements into your business plan, which is what we will work towards within the next 4 months.


 

Gaining the Competitive Edge

Within this month’s theme we will look at our first two sub sections;

  • The value of becoming client focused

  • The importance of strong product or service knowledge.

 

Putting the Client First and Centre

In any business, relationship building is the key to success in the long term. Nurturing the needs of a client can go a long way to forging relationships with longevity.
“People who build strong networks achieve their goals quicker”
Selena Soo

Some of the main principal benefits to building long-term business relationships include:

  • Building trust and reputation with your customer

  • Reduced marketing effort

  • Creation of brand advocates

  • Increasing the potential for successful results

  • Competitive edge

Building trust and reputation

By investing time and effort into getting to know your clients, listening to their needs and giving the service which addresses their pain, you are well on the way to building highly successful relationships.

65% of new business comes from referrals
— New York Times

Reduced marketing effort

When you focus on building successful relationships, you create the potential to develop life- long connections. Having a regular, established client base reduces the need for excessive marketing and business development to win new customers, which can reduce overall operational costs. Nurturing those relationships can grow your business through repeat use and recommendations to others.


Brand advocates

When you look after your clients, they are more likely to be satisfied with your service, which increases the chances of them promoting your business to others. By acting as brand advocates for your business, long-term clients are effectively doing the marketing of your brand for you, building your reputation and increasing awareness.


Successful outcome

Take the time to get to know your clients and you will be better equipped to fully understand what they want. This encourages repeat business and enhances your company’s profile.


Competitive edge

Any business wanting to succeed needs to have a competitive edge over its peers. One of the most effective ways to do this, is by forging long-term business relationships. By focusing on the process and not the end result, customers will be more satisfied and are more likely to use your services again.


Develop Real Confidence in Your Product Knowledge

Having a strong product or service knowledge is extremely powerful. It is difficult to effectively sell to a customer if we cannot show how our product or service will address their needs.

Reliability (27%), expertise (21%) and professionalism (18%) remain the most important attributes to customers.
— Vendasta

Having a strong product or service knowledge can generate the following benefits to your business:

  • Improves your communication skills

  • Encourages enthusiasm in your buyer

  • Grows confidence with your customer

  • Assists in preparing for customer queries



Improves Your Communication Skills

Having a thorough understanding of your product (which may also be a service) allows you to use different techniques and methods of presenting to, and engaging with your customer. Strong communication skills allow you to recognise and adapt your presentation or pitch for a variety of customers as not all customers will have the same need, or problem.

Remember to sell the benefits of your product to that individual customer, and even more importantly, discover what their needs are.


Encourages Enthusiasm in Your Buyer

Genuine enthusiasm for your product or service is one of your bestselling tools. As you generate real gusto you remove any uncertainty that you are unable to resolve your customer’s needs. The easiest way to become enthusiastic is to truly believe in what you are offering, and to have belief in your ability to deliver. Remember, the first sale you make is yourself; the second sale is your product. If a customer believes in you, they will believe in the product or service that you are selling.


Grows Confidence with Your Customer

The big difference in securing a new client may simply be the presence of the confidence that you have in your product knowledge, or the knowledge of your industry. Really educating yourself here will help cement your own confidence and help you deliver that sale.

84% of customers are frustrated when the agent does not have information.
— Esteban Kolsky

How to Gain Product Knowledge

If you feel that you lack confidence, or knowledge in your particular industry, there are lots of you can ways that work towards improving this, below are just a few ideas to help you get started:

  • Marketing Literature

  • Sales Reps

  • Training Sessions

  • Testimonials

  • Role Playing

  • Practical Use

 

Conclusion

At this stage we have really stripped back the benefits of our first theme in gaining the competitive edge, looking specifically at two short sub sections:

  • Putting the customer at the front and centre of all that you do

  • The importance of product knowledge

A customer wants to know WHY your business, and your product is important and valuable to them, so ensure that you spend the time getting to know them, understanding their needs and working towards solving their problems.

It is important to remember that one of the most vital element of gaining the competitive edge is to sell the benefits and not the features of your product. As each customer will have a unique set of needs, it is important that you have the skills, knowledge and communication techniques to solve their individual problems in a way that is completely bespoke to them.

The bottom line is that customers crave and need your product knowledge. It's how they make their buying decision and it's how they know they can trust you to deliver. Using this product knowledge is a skill, and should always come back to being customer centric in how you deliver your pitch, or sale; listen to their needs, ensure that your offering matches that need and talk about the benefits of buying from you.

Fiona Bradley