Our economy has been in turmoil for so long that I am almost afraid to turn on the financial channel for fear of hearing about another economic disaster. We have industry stats to deal with, housing, manufacturing, retail and oil leading the way. Are they up? Are the down? Are the housing numbers real, or just a result of investors looking for yield? On the financial side we have price increases for new models somewhat caused by government regulation. Then add in potential inflation, deflation and QI to the mix and who knows what to expect for future business. Then the guesswork of trying to figure how to finance the business is always a thrill because if you make a mistake the interest rates will kill you.
I guess we could add in ACA (Obamacare) but who cares anymore because things are just a mess and it is tough convincing customers or potential customers to pull the trigger, because our customers are in the same boat we are trying to figure out what to do next and who to do it with.
Taking all this turmoil into account, just how do we go about getting customers
Trying to “sell” a customer any level of service these days is a tough business. There are competitors galore out there selling somewhat of a commodity product using similar sales techniques. So how do these customers decide?
Customers today are looking for value added benefits that make it easy for them to decide to do business with you, because you are going to deliver on what you promised, for the price promised, will help them finance the deal, and have an inventory of value added solutions available to help them run their business.
In short, you have a virtual biz consulting group available to assist or consult as necessary to solve customer problems. I know it sounds a little crazy but believe me it is doable without hiring one single person. The trick is to find a group of service providers who want to work with you on this project in exchange for the opportunity to get some work from your customers. And since you are in effect doing the marketing for these players they have to abide by the rules of the game if they want to remain in the group. Believe me when I say you have more control of this situation than you think.
I remember years ago when computers were taking off, one dealer opened his training room to train customer personnel how to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint etc. They were educating customer personnel how to increase productivity and thus profits. The demand and scheduling was pretty hectic, but what a way to capture those potential customers when they are ready to buy.
So how do you bring value added to the equation? The first thing you should do is revisit your unique selling proposition (USP), which should include the value of doing business with you. As you know the USP should contain “real” benefits you bring to the table and not just generic verbiage. So when you get in the weeds, just what opportunity gap do you bring to the table that your competitors do not? Benefits you can point to and deliver on. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Make a contest out of this and once you have it at the 5000 ft. level let a copywriter take a run at it to polish it up.
Then study your customer list, make some calls and find out what is keeping them up nights, which may have nothing to do with lift trucks. Then use one of your consultants to prepare a report that contains specific solutions which can be delivered by mail, webinar or
CD. Depending on your customer list, maybe you have a manufacturing group as well as a wholesale group, using large warehouses to store and move product, you can work with to improve profits.
I have such a group that works with dealers and rental companies. We know the dealer business, we converse with one another when we have problems solving a dealer problem, we deliver industry specific knowledge without reinventing the wheel and we provide on-going data and solutions to members of our tribe. One stop shopping that can be accomplished virtually for reasonable cost when compared to the alternative.
So write down that USP. Create that opportunity gap and make more money!
I’d like to see what you come up with when you get to third base with the USP. Send them to me through MHW.
Garry Bartecki is a CPA MBA with GB Financial Services LLC. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to contact Garry.