Set yourself apart by selling value


Unfortunately, the average seller, doesn’t focus on the buyer’s need preferring instead to dwell on his

Instead of standing in line with your product differentiation, stand apart with your selling. The former has a limited shelf life before it is copied, or bettered. In any case customers don’t buy what your product is; they buy what it can do for them (or their business), so tell them.

You don’t buy a pen because it is blue and plastic; you buy it because it is cost effective for the child that keeps on losing pens or, if it’s niche, how it’ll accentuate your classiness. My harping on the plastic casing and blue colour just slows down the sale, likely killing it. Dwelling on the practicality or classiness however, will accelerate the sale.  Unfortunately, the average seller, possibly driven by vanity or misguided internal training, doesn’t focus on the buyer’s need preferring instead to dwell on his. After all, this is what the instructor from the refinery animatedly said: “Our oil is different from the competition; it has an additive that simultaneously cleans the pipes as it flows in them.” Maybe it is different, maybe it is not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the customer doesn’t care! “So what?” he silently asks.

Yes, I know, it’s not just oil; theirs diesel and petrol and lubricants and gas and if that’s your input here, take heed, it’s you I’m addressing. That difference is good for you to know, but useless to the buyer if you cannot show what it can do for his business. To him diesel is diesel; insisting that yours has additives, is standing in line with the average seller, and an exercise in splitting hairs that triggers a price war. The buyer goes into offence: “I buy from your competitor at 95 shillings per litre; sell it to me at 94 and we can talk (sic).” And just like that he drags you down the rabbit hole of price. You lose.

However, if you stood apart with, “I’m here to reduce your monthly fuel costs from 3 million shillings to 2.4 million,” you will have his undivided attention. Now you are talking his language. The more if you are addressing a decision maker as you should be anyway in a business-to-business sale.

And with this opening gambit stick to showing how you will reduce the cost. For instance, “Diesel  leaves sediments in your machinery incurring you three unnecessary costs: it slows the machinery and therefore production, increases your wear and tear costs and thirdly, downtime every time you have to shut down for maintenance. Eliminating these three obstacles and optimising your diesel usage will save you twenty per cent in fuel costs monthly. Would this be of interest to you?” The likely response to this is, “Of course. How would I do that?” He is now primed to listen to your ‘story’ about your diesel with cleaning additive and likely buy from you.  Why? He has seen the value to him.

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