Business Tools

Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and Keep Them

By Chad Simon

Christine Corelli

Where can you find more customers? If you've been chasing some of your competitors' customers for a while, you already know that bringing new customers into your fold is not an easy task. The SEMA Education Institute (SEI) tackled this issue and more when it featured Christine Corelli of Christine Corelli & Associates Inc. in a recent webinar entitled, “Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and Keep Them.”

Based on Corelli's newest book release of the same title, the presentation identified real-world strategies and tactics of smart businesses and sales professionals who have successfully swayed customers over to their place of business, gained market share and obtained the highest levels of customer loyalty.

Corelli offered proven selling techniques for today's new and often ruthless business arena where new customers are up for grabs and tips for guarding your own customers from predators and making them less vulnerable to your competitors' wiles. She also provided advice for gaining the highest levels of customer loyalty and increasing sales through a sales-service excellence culture that ensures that you keep your new customers.

In today's business climate, there are three keys to gaining market share and increasing profits: sales, service and culture.

Sales Strategies

Offer a smart, competitive sales strategy that includes a vision and mission. This includes advertising, social networking and e-mail campaigns. Solid business-to-consumer strategies include building relationships with your customers and providing memorable customer service. Set slightly lower prices, offer deals and promotions to get them in the door; for example, buy three get one free.

In business-to-business relationships, position yourself as an indispensable business partner. You have to sell yourself first.

Highlight the fact that you have more knowledge than the competition and you have a well-trained staff. Face time with your clients increases your sales results because it shows that you are paying attention to their needs and interested in how you can help them to achieve their goals.

"For instance, a dealer in Oklahoma has five different locations throughout the country, and his customers are loyal to him because he pays attention to his them, takes great care of them, is hands on and has a very dedicated and well-trained team," said Corelli. "So, if you're an executive, make sure that you are also interacting with customers and not just leaving it up to your employees."

Customer Service

Ideas for improving customer service excellence include identifying in weekly retail meetings the strategies that are working and the ones that are not, calling every customer after service and documenting all complaints. 

Seven steps to providing customer service excellence include:

  • Examine “touch points” for opportunities to impress your customers.
  • Brainstorm – improve upon your ideas.
  • Identify causes of dissatisfaction.
  • Practice proactive complaint prevention.
  • Establish guiding principles for service excellence.
  • Offer customer and employee satisfaction surveys.
  • Identify three areas of improvement.
"For example, an automotive service organization was looking for ways to impress its customers, so they decided that if they weren't busy, they would run out and open their customers' car doors and escort them into the shop," said Corelli. "That's just one example of how to separate yourself from your competitors. No detail is too small."

Transform your culture for sales service excellence by actively involving your employees to better support sales; improve customer and internal service; and foster accountability, teamwork and professionalism.

"Create guiding principles; call every customer by name, strive to answer every call by the third ring, say thank you to your customers and tell them you appreciate them, tell them that you are always there for them. There are so many different things you can do to create guiding principles," said Corelli. 

Listen to the complete presentation of “Capture Your Competitors’ Customers and Keep Them.” The session is available through the SEMA Education Institute (SEI) eLearning Center. The eLearning Center is available anytime and contains a vast library of courses that can be downloaded and played at the user's convenience. The webinar sessions included in the eLearning Center can be browsed by topic or by title. Users are also encouraged to enroll as SEI eLearners to keep track of their completed courses and transcripts.