Earning The Business – Even When They’re Already Buying Elsewhere
Do you ever struggle with earning someone’s business because they’re already buying elsewhere? It’s unrealistic to think you won’t face competition in your industry. And even though there’s plenty of “fish in the sea,” sometimes our ideal client is buying from our competitor. It’s in these instances where you’ll need a strategy to attract your ideal client’s attention and create an opportunity to earn some, if not all, of their business.
A few weeks back I did a 5-day sales challenge where I went live on Facebook 5 days in a row offering short and impactful selling skills and techniques. More than 150 people registered to participate. On the registration form, each person was asked to share their biggest sales challenge. One participant asked if I had a method for earning a prospect’s business when they’re already buying elsewhere. Here’s part of his response, “I have always been one to say, just keep calling on them until one of you dies! Obviously, that isn’t the greatest advice – do you have a method that you have found works?”
His response caught my attention and made me laugh. It also got me thinking about how many times in the past I’ve found myself in this same situation. For 17+ years, I sold technology to distributors, dealers, and end-users. It was common for my customers to already have a preferred provider by the time I started calling on them.
How many times do people tell you they’re already working with someone else. What do you do when that happens? Do you walk away or do you check to see if you might be able to earn the business away from your competitor? Notice, I didn’t say “steal” the business away, I said, “earn.”
Steps To Earning Business
Step 1: Become A Resource. When it comes to sales, my philosophy is always to put the relationship first and then the sales follow naturally. When your ideal client is buying elsewhere, become a valued resource to them. There are many ways to do this, here are a few you might try:
- Keep them informed of changes in the market.
- Invite them to attend industry events as your guest.
- Introduce them to possible partners and/or potential clients. Preferably clients that insist on buying your products. This may give your ideal client incentive to buy from you.
Step 2: Find one advantage over your competitor. Do your research. Find something about your product line, your pricing, and/or your back-end incentives your competitor cannot match. It’s always been my goal to get that first sale to the ideal client. Once you’ve opened the door to them buying from you, it’s so much easier to get the second, third, etc. sale. Sometimes it’s as simple as having something in stock that your competitor does not have readily available and letting the client know you can deliver quickly.
Step 3: Be Responsive. There have been so many instances where I’ve earned business away from my competitors just by responding in a timely manner to phone calls and emails. It’s common for companies to start to take for granted their long-term customers. Too often people get cocky and act as if they’re doing the client a favor by allowing them to buy from them. They start cutting back on response time, increasing prices, and they take away programs and incentives. As soon as that happens, the door is open for you to earn the business away.
Step 4: Sell To Their Customer Or Their Competitor. When you’ve done all you can do and the ideal client still isn’t giving you the time of day, it’s time to go a different route. When selling to distributors, find out who their largest customers are and then target the customer. Nothing gets a distributors attention faster than a manufacturer selling to a dealer directly. Or, if you’re selling to an end-user and they won’t give you the time of day, find out who their largest competitor is and establish a relationship with the competitor.
For my entrepreneur and small business followers, not all of the steps above apply to your client relationships. However, a few of the steps above will apply. It’s always up to you to earn your clients’ business. Don’t want to walk away from an ideal client even when they’re already buying elsewhere. The one thing you can always count on is, things change. So with that in mind, at least apply step 1 to all interactions. That way when the time is right, you have an excellent chance of earning the business.
Wishing you continued success this week.
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