Differentiation for Services Coy’s

My twin and I are different…

So we all know we need to have a USP (unique selling proposition)  – Elevator Pitch. But what about when you are in the services business ? …”we are the best” or a derivative of it “we are the leaders” fails miserably on the unique test.

Unfortunately unless the output of your service is significant – it is useless at differentiating you, in fact doing a great job is what I call a hygiene factor – something any decent professional will give.

Very seldom, if at all, it is the firm that differentiates the service provider. There is always someone else that has the “expert team” or “boutique personal service”. We need to hunt further than that.

Think about how you choose your last: Dentist, lawyer, architectural designer or business adviser?

Differentiating in the services game is hard, as the string of poor web sites  are testimony too.

My guess it came down to one of these:

  • Referral from a trusted source – the great thing here is price is often eliminated with a great referral. So make sure all your endorsements are succinct and powerful and not hidden away,
  • They stood out from the pack in some way. This could be from:
    • Making a stand eg Being thought leaders or just different
    • You just liked them, because they are “like you”.

Notice I am not talking about a logo or fancy tag line. It is more about your approach, attitude or way you are. Once you are conscious of what your customers like, give them more of it. Make sure that this “way” is consistent across your entire organisation. Have you ever fired someone because they did not adhere to your company values – brand attitude?

It still blows me away when I see people referring to their craft rather than a measure of success from the client’s perspective. Here is classic from a web site “Accounting is our passion,” If accounting is your passion, enjoy yourself. But what can you do for me?

For something completely different check out this law firm www.valoremlaw.com/ (see the tease below)

They are making a stand:  “the billable hour is dead”

 

Check your web site out,  how much of relevance do you offer your clients?

Some more ideas on standing out from the crowd:

  • Share customer stories, highlighting what your customers got beyond your basic service
  • Make sure all your headline stories on your promotional material talk the language of your customers need and success – not yours
  • On referrals, make sure you make it easy for people to refer you:
  • Be clear on what you do and don’t do. give them a simple sound bite to pass on…
    Particularly if there is some overlap of your services with them.
  • Be clear on what market segment you are after.
  • Make sure you have a LinkedIn profile and its up to date (google is great at finding you here)
  • Reciprocate – people you give referrals, will give you ones in retutn
  • Your existing and past customers will give you the best referrals, they know you. Always ask for an endorsement and highlight rather than hide them on your web site. Third party endorsements have an 80% probability of closing a sale.
  • Google yourself and see what people see of you. Do it on an I-pad and see how your web site looks – influencer’s are generally busy people and they steal time by using these portable devices

More GMC articles on Networking or Pitching , or if you want more information specific to  selling professional services I found a great resource here  http://www.marcusletter.com/Differentiation.htm

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Don’t Confuse Networking With Card Swapping

Networking Tips

Effective networking is one of the best ways to build your business yet so many people do it so wrong.

The number one failing by business people is the delusion that –  card swapping equals networking. Card swapping benefits two parties – the printing industry and the cleaners.

 

At your next networking event spot these people:

Homer Simpsons: Hanging out with their mates and eating and drinking.  – Just go to a bar
Stalkers: Hounding the most famous person in the room – they will not remember who you are in the morning
Date Hunters:
chatting up the pretty people – this works (this is how I found my beautiful wife) but not good for building business
Card Sharks: thrusting cards into everyone’s hand – measuring success by the number of cards they bring back to the office – too many people operate like this

So how should you approach a networking event?

Aim to meet 1- 3 new people:  The goal of attending any networking event should be to commence establishment of 1 to 3 new relationships. There are plenty of networking opportunities; you will not build an entire network in one event. A relationship is based on knowing people well enough so that when you call them in six months’ time, they will remember who you are.  This is never done with simply swapping cards and giving them your elevator pitch. Take your time and get to know them and their business. My goal when I attend a conference is to make one new real connection.

Prepare your Elevator pitch: Make sure the first 60 secs that comes out of your mouth describes something about how you solve problems for your customers – not a speech about you and your technology or craft. Get outside help on testing your elevator pitch – look at attending an GMC Power Pitching workshop

Qualify your audience: Make an assessment on people, if they are not for you and they thrust a card in your hand – put their card into a different pocket and dump their card ASAP. If there is something of interest, dig deeper and remember to ask about them.

Talk to competitors: NZ SME’s do not work well with competitors. Learn to talk about your business without giving away the ‘secret sauce’. Explore opportunities for mergers and acquisitions or just plain collaboration.

Post Event: Follow up with an email or call in the next day or so – not from the other side of the room or in the car park as it appears desperate!

Linkedin: Linkedin.com is a powerful free networking tool. As well as providing an up to date database of your network, it more importantly gives you access to your network’s network. Start with a basic profile today if you do not already have one. The best uses of linkedin are: (i) reference checking new employees from your network, rather than those listed on the cv (ii) Getting introductions into businesses (iii) accessing potential employees, and (iv) participating in online interest group discussions. An interesting fact is in USA 80% of job placements are initiated via LinkedIn.

Groom and qualify your network: Take the time to groom and nurture your best contacts – use a contact schedule to make sure you stay on their radar – pass on links to relevant information to them.

Give and you shall receive: Relationships do not happen overnight, earn the trust and respect before asking favours.

Resources:

KEA: Kiwi Expats Abroad is an international network of passionate Kiwi’s who live abroad that want to help NZ businesses grow international markets   http://www.keanewzealand.com

The Perfect Pitch – a great read

For those who share my passion for “creating a perfect pitch” here is a great book to read.    The Perfect Pitch The Art of Selling Ideas and Winning New Business  by Jon Steel

I am always on the hunt for new book on preparing for and delivering great presentations. This one had a slow start, but then fired on all cylinders. The initial case studies were to long-winded and in my mind out of character with the message of the book. But in the guts of it was a great read. Once I made it 20% of the way through I couldn’t put it down. 

Oh and don’t read it if you are a Porsche owner or belief that power point is a key ingredient to succinct pitches.

 

My key takeaways from this great book are listed below, not to give it all away but to bait you for a great read – this book is full of great ideas.

  • Often pitches “Say everything, but tell nothing”
  •  The Most powerful statements come in small bundles.. check these powerful remembered statements out: “I do”,” I’m leaving”, “she’s dead”
    People can only assimilate one idea at a time… a great example is throw five balls at once at someone and they wont catch any. Throw one and they will catch it. This concepts take me back to a comment that has stuck in my mind “One thought, one message , one person”  Bernie White from Wellington (the moment).
  •  Surprise your audience with something different – my version is “stand out from the crowd” …
  • Always write the 2 min version of your pitch first, even if you are doing a longer version.
  • Use post notes to brain Storm and collate and order thoughts – themes. Jon argues going to power point to soon kills the creative process.
  • Check you are Communicating vs lecturing to your audience
  • Team – presentations need flow and if you are selling the team they need to look like a team eg all members need to be engaged excited with other team members presenting – Not reading email on their iPhones 
  • Use the room as part of your presentation always look at changing the layout from the norm.
  • Remember 5-15-80 rule when accessing clients:  5% u know that u know,  15% u know they don’t know, 80% u don’t know they don’t know

 Oh Jon Steel is not a great power point fan … I love this quote he has taken from Edward Tufte’s book a “Cognitive Style of Power Point”:

 Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that claimed to make us beautiful but didn’t.
Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: making us stupid, degrading the quality and credibility of our communication, turning us into bores, wasting our colleagues’ time.
These side effects, and the resulting unsatisfactory cost/benefit ratio, would rightly lead us to a world-wide product recall.

 Go buy this great book, its well worth the read.   http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Pitch-Selling-Winning-Business/dp/0471789763

Other books I recommend

Are you asking your customers the right questions?

Not enough businesses owners – sales people are having effective conversations with their customers.

Why do you think most salespeople never ask customers and prospects how they charge out for their services and what their biggest challenge is when selling to their customers?
If they did, they would have the essential ingredients for a compelling pitch.

Tony Robinson posted the question above on linked in   http://wp.me/pPCxW-1X  

I agree answering this question, will also help you select an effective pricing model i.e full upfront purchase or a licensing model.