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Win 'Em Over

All's fair in love and war. Go ahead, woo your rivals' clients.

This story appears in the June 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Looking for new customers? It pays to consider who's already using your competitors' services or products. If you're wondering why those customers should do business with you, well, that's exactly the question you'll have to answer if you expect them to make a vendor change. So before you attempt to woo a customer away from a competitor, you must ask yourself these questions: What can I offer that's different from my competitor? How can I bring more to my customer's business? How can my product or service add more value to the potential customer's business?

Once you've answered all these questions, there's one thing left to ponder: What is the competition doing that you can do better, and what isn't the competition doing that you can offer the customer? Suppose your prospective customer has been buying from Acme Widgets for a long time. It's likely Acme is taking that business for granted or even becoming complacent about the service they provide. That's a perfect opportunity for you to offer your new prospect a "teaser," such as a week-long free trial (or 30 days, or a discounted price, or whatever makes sense for your business) so he or she can see that the kind of value you offer makes your company much better than the competition. Then you can say, "If we don't prove ourselves, stay with your present vendor. I promise you, once you try our product, you'll understand why changing suppliers is good for your business."

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