I had dinner a week ago with one of my "friendly"
competitors. We get together every few months, just to talk about things we are
working on and discuss what is new in our industry. While some people find that
odd, I have always felt there is far more benefit to making friends with your
competition then keeping them at a distance. After all, who better to learn
from then someone who is out there doing the exact same thing that you are.
Never the less, I found it interesting that for the first time we found a topic about which we seriously disagree. We were discussing my book, 42 Rules To Turn Your Prospects Into Customers, and talking about some of the rules. He was adamant that all you need to do to turn your prospects into customers is sell. If that doesn't work sell more! I disagree. I believe that the ability to turn your prospects into customers largely depends on your ability to apply a strategy that includes a strong mix of positioning, marketing and sales.
While sales is important, your prospects (in my opinion) are far more likely to turn into customers the better you position and market yourself. What does that mean and how do you do it?
First, let me state my disclaimer! You are here by reminded, you are about to read about position and marketing from the guru of networking, sales and service NOT the guru of position and marketing. In other words, I am giving you my opinion about why I feel position and marketing are vital to the sales process not telling you specifically how to position and market yourself. You would be better off to talk to the marketing guru about that. Okay, back to the story!
You will stand a much better chance of turning your prospects into customers, if your prospects have heard of you, have a positive image of you, and have some understanding of the value your product/service offers, before you arrive at their door to make the sale. That positive image, that value is created through positioning and marketing.
Positioning ( according to Wikipedia) is about creating an image or value in the minds of your target market. Making sure, long before you ever show up at their door, they already understand why what you sell has value and some thought as to how they could benefit. Again, professional marketers can take you through the formal process of how exactly to position what you sell. However, a great simple place to start is to ask yourself a few questions:
What value can prospects or customers get from my product?
What benefit does my product or service add to their business or their lives?
Why should they care about the value and benefit?
What is unique or different about your product or service from your competitors?
Let me give you an example, In my business the value my customers receive is their ability to convert their prospects to customers greatly increases. The benefit is, they learn specifically and in detail what to do to make that happen. They care because their revenues increase and they are now confident in their ability to execute the skills necessary to generate revenue for the company. Lastly, I am unique and different, because I teach people to sell according to their personality style, so the process is both comfortable and effective for them. In addition, I make it very easy to learn and really fun to do. I take people from a fear of selling to making them passionate about selling.
So once you establish your position, you need to market it. It is great that you understand what your market position is, but what good is that if no one ever hears about it? Again, for professional marketers this is a broad term, and I need to again explain that marketing is a complex and deep term and for specifics on how to market it is best to talk with a professional. However, to keep it simple, what I mean by marketing is getting the word out. Once you have established your position in the market place, how are you going to get your message out there so potential customers learn about you, the value you add and the benefit you can bring to their company? There is no right answer here, you just have to do it. You can write articles, advertise, use social media, lead seminars, etc. There are a variety of ways you can market yourself, but the point is to make the sales process easier prospects need to have heard of you, understand what you sell, the value it has, long before you ever show up at their door.
Can you see that if you take the time to position yourself and market yourself, that making the sales call, establishing a relationship with the prospect and closing the deal become so much easier. Doing these three simultaneously will do more to open doors for you and close deals, in my opinion, then just straight selling. However, you have to do all three, you cannot expect positioning and marketing to lead to closed deals without working your sales process. Conversely, you cannot expect to have a high closing ratio of deals, without positioning and marketing yourself.
Positioning, Marketing and Sales are a powerful combination. The mix, the style and the delivery are unique to you. It doesn't matter how you do it, just that you do it. If you want to turn more prospects into customers than position, market and sell!