Sales Strategies for Staying a Step Ahead of the Competition

Maintain your competitive advantage by developing a product that offers value to your customers.

The SEMA webinar series provides on-demand information in hour-long sessions that cover a range of topics designed to help specialty-equipment professionals improve their business operations. Members have the added benefit of making the program fit their schedules by tuning into the live broadcasts or downloading past webinars.

The latest SEMA webinar, “Sales Strategy: Creating Your Competitive Advantage,” was led by Chuck Udell, senior partner with Essential Action Design Group.

During the session, Udell explained that customers have the choice of where they wish to purchase, so it is critical to determine why they decide to buy from you instead of your competition.

You must be able to impact a customer’s decision making, according to Udell. For instance, in the specialty-parts business, if a customer purchases a new performance exhaust system from your shop for their ’01 Camaro, offer to install it for them.

Sales Strategies

Strategy is how business should be conducted to achieve desired goals, while sales strategy is the planning of sales activities, including methods for reaching your customers.

Business-to-business strategy is about understanding your customers. You must know how your customers attract and sell to their customers. What are their key performance indicators?

Business-to-consumer strategy is the ability to understand not only what the consumer wants, but also how to deal with their emotions. Whether business-to-business or business-to-consumer, the sales team must not only find, keep and sell profitably to their customers, but also make them advocates for your business. In today’s social media environment, it’s important to have advocates for your business talking about you, whether or not you are aware of it.

Differentiate Yourself

When differentiating your products, services and company, to create and sustain a competitive advantage, ask yourself the following questions: How well do you know your customers and their customers? What steps are you taking to anticipate their needs and solutions for them? Ask them not only about their situation, but also dig into their problems and talk about how to solve them. What are some creative ways in which you could place yourself in the shoes of those you serve? Do your team members have the necessary skills to make changes based on answers to these questions?

Understanding and satisfying customer needs should take precedence over speed and efficiency. A competitive advantage is something the company does or can do that is of value to consumers, which their competitors cannot match. A sustainable competitive advantage is one that is predicted to persist over time. What makes your company and products unique? Internally, start with trust, friendship and teamwork, and the better you do this, the better your chances of creating a sustained competitive advantage.

If your product has value, is rare and cannot be duplicated, and is developed and exploited by your company, you are on your way to creating a competitive advantage. A competitive advantage is everyone’s responsibility. All positions within your company must be defined in terms of value creation versus functional terms.

Five factors that impact sales and help to create a competitive advantage include: quality products, pricing strategy, product availability, competitive services and sales skills.

Unique Value Proposition

Your unique value proposition is what makes you more unique, valuable and visible than your competitors. When writing your value proposition, keep it short and uncluttered. Be precise and offer targeted solutions to your customers’ specific needs. Ensure your value proposition sticks by making it memorable. When differentiating your business from others, clarity of message comes into play. For example, determine what you want your company to be known for and focus on that one thing (best availability, order accuracy, lowest price, fast delivery, etc.)

If you are not in the top 20 Google searches, your message is not getting out. Make sure your website is consistent in message and current. Include satisfied customer reviews and plenty of photos on how customers use your product.

Clarity of Measurement

How you know when you are successful and the reasons why are answered by clarity of measurement. Examples include customer- buying average, line items per invoice per customer, time in front of customer, sales volume per customer and number of times a customer buys from you. Which measurement is the primary driver of profitability in your business and does everyone on your team know what that is?

SEMA webinars are free to SEMA members and only $29 for non-members.

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