Whenever I work with a building materials company, I look for any assets they have but aren’t using. These assets don’t show up on a balance sheet, but they are usually related to the ways they do business and make them more desirable to customers.
Companies are too close to their own situation. Often, that prevents them from recognizing these assets. That’s a problem because you can’t use something if you don’t know it exists.
The asset can be as simple as the way customers are treated when they interact with your company. It can be the relationship your reps have with their customers. It can be how easy it is to get information and answers to questions. It can even be as simple as being the company that actually does what it says.
Plenty of companies do something well and assume everyone acts the same way. You might not realize that their competitors don’t deliver what the customer wants as well as you do.
If you had a salesperson who is respected in the industry, can help you sell your product and who will work for free, that’s an asset you wouldn’t want to ignore.
Part of my process with new clients is to interview three types of customers:
- Some of their best customers
- Some of their newest customers
- Some prospects they would like to sell
When I interview their existing customers, I always find underappreciated reasons why they prefer buying from the company. It’s almost never about the product or price. It’s usually something the company does that makes the customer more successful or solves a problem they have.
When I ask these customers if they would mind sharing their experience and recommending my client, they are almost always happy to help.
In other words, they’re willing to sell for you. They’ll even do it without asking for a salary or commission.
Case histories are almost always about a project. They all look the same: “Our product was used on this project, which was designed by this architect and built by this general contractor for this owner. Isn’t it impressive!”
To let your customers sell for you, you have to forget why you think your product is better. Let your architect, builder, contractor, dealer, and distributors tell you why they do business with you. Again, it won’t be product or price. It will be about how you make things easier than your competition, a problem that you solve or some way you help them succeed.
Ask them if you can use their comments in a case history. Most of them will be happy to help you since you’re also promoting them and showing why they’re smart business people.
If your salesperson can show new prospects what other customers say about you, it adds a lot of credibility to their sales pitch.
In today’s world, you can have a written document like a case history, or you can have a video of the customer you shot on a cell phone or an interview you did with them for a podcast.
The important thing is to use the asset that is your customers. Put their “Reasons Why They Prefer You” in your sales and marketing.
An added benefit of this is that the reason customers prefer you might be something you didn’t realize was important. This is very valuable information for your planning.
Your customers don’t just buy your product. They can also promote it. When you start thinking of your customers as salespeople, you can get a lot of use out of this easily overlooked asset.