Don't Wage a Price War. Win Sales by Eliminating Your Competition.
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Let me propose a new sales strategy for your company:
“We are the high-price leader. That’s right, no one charges more than us. In fact, if you can find a higher price from a competitor, we will gladly raise our price and add an additional 10 percent. We will not be oversold!”
It sounds crazy, but there is a method to this madness.
Suppose you are working to win a customer who might choose you but is also contemplating two of your competitors. Let’s assume that this customer believes all three options offer identical value.
Question: How are you going to win that sale?
Answer: Offer the lowest price.
Congratulations, you have entered the land called “Commodityville,” a magical place where companies quickly part with their profits to buy sales.
Of course, the problem with living in Commodityville is that you will always -- always -- find someone who is willing to give away more than you.
It is a game with strange rules: the only way to win is to lose.
A different approach. Let’s kick the commodity paradigm to the proverbial curb and start over with a fresh approach. Instead of investing valuable time and resources trying to justify your value as compared to a competitor, try this: eliminate your competition.
For example, consider the motorcycle. One either rides a motorcycle or a Harley-Davidson. A Harley rider never says, “I ride a motorcycle.” It is always, “I ride a Harley.” (And you can assume a little attitude with that statement.) Conversely, a Honda rider simply says, “I ride a motorcycle.” No need to say the brand name. After all, it isn't a Harley.
Consider the sales experience when someone is shopping for a Harley-Davidson: If a shopper says to a sales representative, “I'm thinking about buying a Harley but I am also considering a Honda or a Suzuki. In fact, those bikes are substantially cheaper than a Harley.”
How does the Harley-Davidson salesperson respond? Probably something like this:
The fact is that a new Suzuki will run you around $10,000. A new Harley will cost closer to $18,000. There is no way that a Harley salesperson can make up the price gap by getting into a price and features comparison. He/she will lose every day of the week.
The argument in this case study is simple: buy something else and you won’t get a Harley. (I can almost hear the comments section blowing up with people disparaging Harleys as being radically overpriced. I can assure you that these comments will not come from Harley owners!)
Defining your unique value. Eliminating your competition starts with a comprehensive understanding of your product/service and a die-hard conviction about your own value proposition.
The questions you need to answer are: What makes you stand out? And why should a customer pay more for your product or service?
If you cannot answer these questions, then you lose the right to ask for a higher price.
A different kind of value statement. With knowledge and conviction firmly in place, the next step in eliminating your competition is translating your message into a value proposition that resonates with customers.
The words you use need to communicate that buying from a competitor will result in your customer feeling a tremendous sense of compromise and dissatisfaction.
To accomplish this, structure your value proposition using these phrases:
1. “There are a lot of companies out there that…” Complete this sentence by describing a disadvantage of buying from a competitor, something that your customer would consider a compromise. Note that I am not suggesting that you call out a competitor by name. Leave it to your customer to fill in the blanks.
2. “We do things differently. We offer…” This is not a feature-for-feature comparison. This is a descriptive focus on key value points that customers find truly compelling.
A case study. Let’s suppose your company offers social-media consulting. At last check, there are 4 billion companies offering seemingly similar services. So how do you kill your competition and win new business without discounting? Your value statement might sound like this:
“Some companies say they provide customized solutions when, in reality, they use (and you pay for) an off-the-shelf piece of software that all of your competitors use. We work one on one to first identify your unique value and then we show you how to incorporate that value statement into every single correspondence. We find that our clients have greater success with our customized services than they do with cookie-cutter tools.”
Without mentioning any competitor by name, the message is clear: Go with the other guys and you will regret the choice.
Go with us, and you will get what you need, with no regrets.
It is time to leave Commodityville for good. If you know everything there is to know about what you sell, and if you passionately believe in it with your whole heart, you do not need to buy sales.
Start eliminating your competition and you can change someone’s world!