HARDISON’S TIPS – OCTOBER 19, 2020 – SELLING YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE TO A SMALL BUSINESS (PT.1)
If you’re shopping for a new vacuum, it’s easy to compare features to find one that meets your dust-busting needs. But what if you want a cleaning service to come to your house and do the job for you? You reach out to six providers, and they all tell you they can do it—and how.
How do you know which one will provide the best service?
This question gets to the heart of how anyone selling services has to compete to win business. Whether you sell to other companies or to consumers, selling services means selling yourself, your team’s expertise, and the value your company brings to the client or customer. It’s a tricky prospect, but there are ways to make it work.
Differentiating Your Business
According to the US Small Business Administration, only about 50% of businesses survive five years or longer. One of the primary reasons: they get outcompeted. To make it past that five-year mark, you need to know your competition and differentiate your business from them—especially when selling an intangible.
Perform a competitive analysis
To better understand where you fit into your market, research your competition. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy to start: set up a spreadsheet that includes your company, your competitors, and the areas you want to compare.
- General capabilities
- Target market
- How they market and sell
- Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats (SWOT)
You can also gather info on your competitors by connecting with them. Join industry associations, attend events, and find ways to socialize. You’ll learn a lot from each other and can develop valuable professional relationships in your field that may even open doors for future referral business.
Finally, check out your competitors’ Glassdoor reviews—you can learn a lot from employee comments. For example, a potential client once asked me for my thoughts on a larger competitor he was also talking with. Rather than saying anything negative, I pointed him to the company’s Glassdoor page where dozens of employees shared their stories. The majority of reviewers—primarily writers—expressed feelings of being rushed to complete work with little research, resulting in poor quality, angry/lost customers, and a general feeling of burnout.
By contrast, our agency’s content creation process was strategic. Writers were paired with subjects they were already familiar with, given time to interview experts, and focused on quality rather than quantity.
Because this competitor was a popular player, a lot of buyers I encountered were usually talking with them. Being able to show how we approached our services and then directing them to the competitor’s Glassdoor page during the sales process paid off. Buyers usually don’t want to work with companies that treat their employees poorly. For most, the message was clear: unhappy employees equal unhappy customers.
Develop a niche
One of the top reasons startups fail is because they “get outcompeted.” Being known for a specialty in a service field immediately sets you apart from the competition. Not only can you market and attract prospects with a niche, but you can also better position your business during the sales process.
When I was selling marketing services, at least half of my sales prospects asked me what made our agency different than the others. It was a question I loved because I could tell a story about our specialized team and how we approached our services differently from onboarding to delivery and everything in between.
For example, all of our writers worked in-house and had at least five years of experience writing for the technical and professional service industries we targeted. In addition, they became experts on our clients’ specific businesses by conducting interviews and meeting regularly to discuss relevant topics and trends. This set us apart from our competitors because they worked primarily with freelance writers who didn’t get the deep exposure to a client our writers did.
Make It A Champion Day!