How your prospects view you compared to your competition can be the deciding factor in whether or not to do business with you.
Other factors being equal, this decision often comes down to which company “looks” the best – often a gut instinct from the buyer.
So how do you make your business stand out from the rest and guide that gut feeling?
I will explain in detail and tell you how to be the one who stands out against everyone else – every single time, regardless of your industry.
Don’t underestimate the importance of how you are perceived – it can make or break a deal
Perceived Authority & Expertise
When people hear that term, ‘perceived authority’, they immediately think that there’s some sort of deception involved. This is not the case.
Perception informs reality, so it’s not enough to just be an authority in your field, you also have to be perceived as an authority and expert in your market.
No matter how good your business is at delivery, an amateurish website and poor communication skills will diminish the perception of your authority. Hire help if need be for these parts of your business, but remember that perception comes from all aspects of your business that are visible to potential prospects.
But it goes a lot deeper than that.
To be positioned as the authority in your field, you need to do things that your competition is not. You need to go against the flow.
The way to do this is to position yourself as an expert in your market – through your marketing.
This doesn’t mean saying “Tulsa’s #1 Chiropractor” or anything equally hollow. You need to prove you’re an expert when engaging with prospects.
The problem is, almost no one knows how to do this.
What NOT to Do
Imagine you own a plumbing company. Your guys do top-notch, professional work. Your biggest struggle is getting new business (as is the case with most business owners). You advertise and cold call, but you’re not getting as many clients as you want. You even target your cold calls to businesses housed in buildings that are 30+ years old, increasing the likelihood of plumbing problems. A typical cold call goes something like this:
Caller: “Hi I’m Greg from ABC Plumbing. Your home is very old and likely has plumbing problems. I’d like to offer you a free inspection of your plumbing to determine any problems that you might experience in the near future, so you can catch them before they cost you thousands of dollars.”
Prospect: “There’s nothing wrong with our plumbing.”
Caller: “It may seem like there’s nothing wrong, but a building as old as yours experiences a lot of plumbing problems.”
Prospect: “We had some work done a couple years ago. We don’t need anything else. Thank you.”
(phone hangs up)
A couple things to note here: The plumber is making assumptions about the building that may not be true. In some cases he may be correct. But even so, picture this situation from the prospect’s perspective.
If a plumber calls and assumes you have a plumbing problem and offers to come look at, what do you think they’ll find? A problem! Maybe they have not had any work done recently, but they’re still skeptical of the trustworthiness of this plumber.
Redefining Cold Calling
Now, of course, the plumber’s approach might be different than what’s described above. Regardless, what the plumber is doing is clear: they’re trying to sell something! The prospect knows this, and unless they’re in dire need of a plumber (which is unlikely), they’re immediately put on the defensive.
So the question is: how can the plumber get the prospect to open up and not feel sold to?
Imagine again that you’re that same plumber. You make that same cold call to that same homeowner. The conversation goes like this:
Caller: “Hi, I’m Greg from ABC Plumbing. We’re contacting you today to let you know about a new report we put together, called “The Top 5 threats to the value of your home.” We want to make sure that homeowners are aware of these problems because we’re your neighbors too. And maximizing property values in our neighborhood benefits everyone. The report is free. Would you be interested in learning about the biggest threats to the value of your home?”
Prospect: Well yes, of course.
Caller: Great. If you could go ahead and confirm your e-mail address, I’ll send that over.
What just happened here?
The plumber got a lead by providing valuable market information that genuinely helps the prospect
He didn’t focus on how awesome he is, or that he’s been in business for 30 years. The prospect doesn’t care about this.
Rather, this savvy business owner took the broadest possible perspective from that of the prospect and answered the question, “what can I provide of value to this individual that also connects with my service offerings?”
This person may not need plumbing services right now. But that doesn’t matter. They want to know potential threats to the value of their home. And what do you think one of the five biggest threats to the value of your home is going to be?
You guessed it, aging plumbing!
In the report, the plumber will provide all sorts of market data about threats to home values, perhaps he talks about mold and dry rot and provide independently researched data for percent of homes affected by this and average cost to fix these problems. He’d then do the same for 3 other non-plumbing issues (cluttered and poorly kept yards, foreclosures in neighborhoods, etc).
Lastly, he’ll talk about the essential need for up to date plumbing, backed up by heaps of independently verified data.
The plumber has now gained credibility as an expert and been placed in a category above his competitors. This prospect may forward the report to a friend, or if someone mentions a plumbing issue, he’s likely to get a referral simply because of the position he’s put himself in relative to his competitors.
He’s provided more value to that prospect for free than any other plumber ever will.
Now the plumber can periodically send emails to this prospect with more valuable information related to maximizing the value of your home, water use reduction strategies, etc. If that homeowner then has a leak in his bathroom sink, who do you think he is going to call?
Is It Worth It?
This may seem like a lot of work, and it can take some time to get setup. But once it’s setup – correctly – you will see at least a 2x increase in lead flow. AND, closing the sale is easier when you present the need for your service by providing valuable market information.
There are dozens of variations and methods of deployment for education-based marketing, and the benefits to your business are many. I’ve given you one example that, if you act, can change your business and your life forever.
So do it!