Selling yourself short?
Learn how to stand out without lowering your price.
April 28, 2015 By Jeff Mowatt
Is what you do for a living perceived by potential customers as being a
mere commodity: more or less the same as others in your profession? When
that happens, customers revert to the easiest differentiator – price.
Is what you do for a living perceived by potential customers as being a mere commodity: more or less the same as others in your profession? When that happens, customers revert to the easiest differentiator – price.
The outlook gets worse as you realize that somewhere in the global economy there is likely someone offering similar products or services for a cheaper price. And with the Internet it’s easier for your customers to find them. What’s most frustrating is when you know your products and services are indeed different, but customers don’t seem to get that and put you in the same category as everyone else.
The good news is you can change customer perceptions by changing the way you describe what you do. Your goal is to have a potential customer thinking, “If I don’t explore this further with this person, I could be missing a good thing.”
How would you describe what it is you that you do for a living? Most of us automatically commoditize our job. We say, “I’m a water well driller” or “I’m a personal financial advisor.” Imagine meeting a potential customer at an industry luncheon and giving that type of label to what you do. The words “I’m a” imply that that there are other people who do exactly what you do. In other words you sabotage your uniqueness with your first two words.
Rather than describing yourself using of a generic label, you can instead refer to the ultimate benefit you deliver. If you sell liability insurance, for example, you could describe your service as reducing risk for business owners. There are two ways to describe benefits. One is the pleasure gained and another is the pain avoided. A financial advisor for example, might describe her service as “helping people retire in comfort” (pleasure gained). Or she could describe what she does as “preventing people from having to work until they die because they can’t afford to retire” (pain avoided). Interestingly, when it comes to spending money sooner rather than later, customers are more often motivated by avoiding pain than by gaining pleasure.
You’ve probably heard networking experts state that you’re supposed to have an elevator pitch (a 30-second commercial ready to recite). The problem in the real world when you’re talking with smart, streetwise customers, is the 30-second infomercial sounds so phony and contrived it turns them off more than tweaks their interest. Instead, as a hairstylist, for example, you might reply a simple one-line ultimate benefit, “I help people fix personal image problems.” This time you’re more likely to have stimulated their curiosity. Their next question naturally becomes, “How do you do that?” Now you’ve been invited to describe your products/services in an even more compelling way.
An easy way is start with the words, “You know how…” Then complete the sentence explaining how your service fixes a common problem. For example, when someone asks the hairstylist how she fixes personal image problems, she might respond with, “You know how most hairstylists usually just ask how you want your cut and you usually get the same thing done? Well, when I work with a client I start by looking at the person’s most attractive facial features, then we come up with a cut that not only highlights their most attractive features but also works for their lifestyle.” .
Bottom line: next time you need to set yourself apart from the competition – beyond just lowering prices – try changing the way you talk about what you do for a living.
Jeff Mowatt is a customer-service strategist, award-winning speaker, and bestselling author. For more tips, training tools or to inquire about engaging Jeff for your team, visit www.JeffMowatt.com.
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