POSITIONING The Secret Selling Weapon Common To Extraordinarily Successful Companies And Individuals

POSITIONING The Secret Selling Weapon Common To Extraordinarily Successful Companies And Individuals

When you position yourself so that qualified prospects find out about you or at least have the feeling of discovering you, they will seek you out to gain from your expertise in solving their problems. Resistance to sales will increase or decrease, depending on whether a prospect finds and approaches you, or you find and approach them. This means you must position yourself where you are likely to be found.

In my own case the books, manuals and seminars I run, position me in such a way that I am on the ‘front foot’ rather than back foot. The credibility and notoriety I gain by using these methods, alters the sales process for me. I try and position myself as a ‘guru’. That way people are predisposed to do business with me at my price and on my terms and I wouldn’t want it any other way. Another strategy I use for positioning, is providing my prospect with an abundance of testimonials. Before I do business with anyone, out go 30 or more testimonials!

Why? – because when we do finally meet, my prospect is predisposed to doing business with me—based on the testimony of my past and present clients.

The other significant reason is that testimonials are written by someone else – and someone else can sing your praises and that is totally acceptable, whereas there is a limit to what you can say about yourself. If I were to say the same things about myself, I would appear to be big headed, conceited and arrogant and any hope of establishing rapport with my prospective clients would more than likely be lost.

Because of the results I have achieved for my clients and because of my “no results, no fee” approach (no one has ever asked for their money back) In WA my positioning has now become my position.

John Hughes (who sells cars) and Dale Alcock (sells new homes) have positioned themselves as leaders in their respective industries and you will find most quotes in the press regarding either cars or new homes, can be attributed to these gentlemen. Not only are people predisposed to buy their products but they also attract the highest achievers as employees. Essentially we all like to work for a winner.

It’s all about breaking down the sales resistance.

If Your Positioning is Right, You Can Have a Very Powerful Selling Tool at Your Disposal – Take Away Selling

Which do you perceive to be better? A hair salon where you have to make an appointment a week in advance or one where you walk in off the street and get your hair cut. Nobody goes to see the wise man at the bottom of the mountain – you must position yourself at the top of the mountain. Create the impression that people will have to scale the hypothetical mountain to get to you. You must project some exclusivity.

So what is ‘take-away’ selling? It is when people can see how buying from you or procuring your services will benefit them, but it’s not going to be too easy for them to reach you – they can see it, but they can’t quite have it and so they desire it with more urgency!

I have coached a Landscape Gardener who uses this technique during the sales process. His spiel sounds something like this …

“At ‘Green Garden Landscape’ you are dealing with a company that personally oversees your whole project from the design, excavating, demolishing and construction using our own teams of qualified trade people to bring your dreams to reality with little disruption to daily life. You see, we guarantee to finish on time and on budget. Now you may be comfortable with a more conventional one man band jack-of-the-trade type of landscaper who is not as selective about taking in work”.

My client then takes out his address book and says “If you would like to entrust your landscaping to someone who prefers to operate like that, I can recommend several landscapers. But if you would like us to prepare rough drawings for you we can get underway immediately”

Take Away Selling is positioning from start to finish. It basically says, “I’m picky about who I accept as a client, do you qualify?”

I didn’t invent this. In major cities like New York and LA there are apartment buildings where you can’t rent an apartment. To meet the standards required for you to rent or buy there, you must be sponsored by an existing tenant, your application is put to the vote by all the existing tenants … you have to jump through hoops just to be permitted to buy/rent.

Many Doctors, Hair Stylists, Therapists, Attorneys and such, have what we call Leading Lists Practices.

Why shouldn’t you carry this air of exclusivity over to your business, and the point is if you have enough business flow, enough big prospects being magnetically attracted to you, you will have to say “no” to some and in the final analysis, your positioning will become your position.

Take Away Selling is very powerful psychologically. Everybody wants the tickets they can’t get – the ones that will get you into that exclusive club. Stepping back from a prospect draws him to you, stepping toward him drives him away. This very same phenomenon occurs in any relationship, whether business or personal. Try it as an experiment. In conversation, move physically away from the other person and watch as she/he moves towards you. Now step closer to him/her and they’ll step back. It’s no different in the less tangible area of the psyche.

So I want to be positioned from the very beginning with credibility and status, so my clients eagerly pursue me, rather than me having to do the pursuing.

Fake It, Until You Make it.

What if you’re just starting out? For sales people already doing well, but seeking the ‘break-through’, to truly exceptional success, I will give you one basic example. Imagine that while you were out of the office briefly a really hot prospect called, somebody whose name you recognised and whom you’d love to get an appointment with. When do you call that person back, immediately, later that day, the next day?

I’m here to tell you that even if you have no-one else to call, nowhere to go and nothing to do, you do not even contemplate returning that call immediately! Where are you on ‘that mountain’, at the top or the bottom? You just cannot afford to appear overly eager or too easily accessible.

You might think “Hey, I’ll demonstrate how responsive I am, how good I am with providing service”. Well that may apply after the sale, but not before, and if that sounds gimmicky, I’m sorry but I’ve just been straight with you. The prospect’s respect for you diminishes if you are too easy to get to!

I personally now genuinely struggle to return calls quickly and that is simply because my positioning has become my position. It takes me between three days to a week, now to return many of my calls, or they get delegated to a scheduled appointment.

First you decide upon, define, stake out and courageously claim a position

Then you behave as such a position demands. You also have to work seriously on validating the position, and before you know it, the positioning you’ve created for marketing purposes becomes your actual position.

If you have read Al Ries and Jack Trouts book “The Battle For Your Mind”, on positioning and their “Twenty Two Innumerable Laws of Marketing” you gain a far deeper understanding of positioning as strategy, than if you have read “Phyco-Cybernetics”, by the late physiological author Dr Maxwell Maltz’, or “Release Your Brakes”, by Jim Newman.

If you read the works of prosperity conscientious authors like Catherine Ponder and Stuart Wild, you see that positioning is a powerful application to self fulfilling prophecy. Then if you really study the works and understand the meaning of Napoleon Hill’s dominant thought principal, as I call it, the secrets Dr Hill refers to at the beginning of his book, you will gain more clarity about what to do and how to do it. You will then occupy the position you have worked hard to reach.

Unfortunately corporate Australia and the academic fraternity, insist on conditioning us to believe that we need something else to “position” us . . . a degree, a title. But if I adhered to that regulation in the entrepreneurial world, I would have starved … and so will you!

My own experience is a case in point. After 24 years of buying and selling run down or under performing businesses and selling them for massive profits. I met with a close personal lawyer friend, for a cup of coffee and asked him whether he thought the business world would want to know “how I did it”? His reply was “Where is your degree, qualification?”. I thought “Yes he is right, why would anyone want to listen to me?” And it set me back 6 to 12 months! The deafening moral of that story is … don’t always listen to well meaning friends and relatives!

The irony of all this is that I am speaking to a packed house of over 400 people and guess who is running the event and paying the bill? The University of Western Australia and they have also enquired about hiring me for my coaching advice. Not bad for a high school ‘drop-out’, who swore off education at the age of 15.

In the real world of business, it works the opposite way to that we are led to believe. The super successful person firstly decides on his position, then backs it up with achievement.

Lets take an insurance agent who wants to specialize in dealing with C.E.O’s of family owned businesses. The traditional school of thought says he ought to go to a bunch of classes and seminars, take courses, and even study for exams to be certified as an ‘expert’. Of course all of this usually takes a significant amount of time. He then spends a number of years of his life labouring with one, then two, then three clients. And very gradually, the community at large begins to takes notice of him. Finally maybe some respected association, or the media, proclaim him an expert in his field. You should live so long!

In the real world of selling, here’s what the smart agent does. She prepares herself as best she can, then she proclaims herself Western Australia’s Specialist in advising senior members of family owned businesses. After that, she gets busy doing things that synergise with and support that position. She writes a book, gives a lecture, a seminar. She starts sending out news releases to the media with the intention of being interviewed as an expert. He or she focuses all of his/her marketing to support this position and then he/she is that position.

The Fastest Way a Sales Pro Can Quickly and Easily Double Their Income . . .
Double the Time They Spend Selling.

A very successful business insurance friend and client has doubled his already very substantial income in the past two years and in his words he has “Never worked so little and made so much money – it’s almost embarrassing”.

How was this achieved and how can you reach such a level of achievement?

Delegate non-selling activities and tasks you don’t enjoy or perform well! My insurer friend hired a personal assistant to take care of everything that doesn’t contribute to a sale. Some of those duties are – vetting phone calls, filling out contracts, keeping records, placing ads, doing mail-outs, restaurant and travel reservation, picking up dry cleaning, arranging gifts, having the car washed and vacuumed and buying gifts.

Another way to double your income is to systemise your Lead Generation System (L.G.S) using the strategies contained in the marketing section of this manual. Such systems are guaranteed to save you time and free up key people – like you!

You need to get relatively tough about valuing, protecting and investing your time. I am getting better at this myself.

If you want to inject some discipline into a campaign, for example, to lose weight—keep a diary and truthfully write down every single thing you eat, nibble on or drink that has fat or calories in it everyday, day by day. Also keep a log and an account for every minute of your time. Both of these techniques act as mirrors that will change behaviour.

Do the same for your business. Be scrupulous about writing down everything you do and the time it takes to do it . . . then take a good look at where you’re spending – or wasting, the precious commodity of your time!

If you can double your true selling time I guarantee you will more than double your income!

Here is the Most Important Time Management

Tip the Sales Pro Will Ever Get.

Here’s the big secret. The purpose of time management should be to increase the amount of time spent on planned accomplishments. Further note that the important aspect of time management is identifying what not to do. I find that success is proportionate to your ability to give more time to those things you do enjoy the most and less time to those things that you dislike doing and consequently do poorly.

Eliminate the least productive in favour of the most productive by a plan of action! And the key word in all of this is to plan. Do you have a plan for selling this year, this week or today for that matter?

But while having a plan of action is very important it may not be the most important thing I can tell you about time. I am an advocate of setting aside some time on a daily basis – to think. Time Magazine determined that Thomas Edison was the greatest inventor of the past 2000 years and guess what he did on a daily basis. He sat for ideas!

That’s right, Thomas Edison sat and did nothing but think! And it’s no coincidence that it was the time he spent doing this one simple thing, that he claimed was also the time when he solved most of his problems. Sitting in a quiet place and thinking. Sounds a lot like meditation to me.

So if it’s good enough for the greatest inventor of two centuries, it must be good enough for us!

Where Does a Sales Person Waste Time?

The most wasteful time most sales people spend is talking to people who cannot give them a yes or a no! Only time invested with decision makers counts! I have often heard so-called sales professionals bemoaning the fact that they have “Spoken to a client 25 times, all hours of the day and night and I still haven’t got the order”.

A quick no is as good as a yes in my view. That way you can invest your time with qualified buyers. After all it is a numbers game.

I recently undertook a survey of new ‘home opens’ and to my amazement only one sales person in the 25 homes I entered, attempted to qualify me as a buyer! That shocked me!

Only invest your time and energy in people and tasks that will proactively produce a sale.

Now every top sales pro has activities to take care of that have very short term $$$ relevance and impact. What sets the really top pro’s apart, is that whilst they are taking care of ‘today’s’ needs, they also allocate time and attach equal importance to developing future sales. They never forsake one for the other. If you are not doing the same, then you are really mortgaging away your future for day-to-day results.

To be exceptionally successful in selling you must get past the point of “going to bed tonight with no real certainty of where tomorrow’s sale may come from”. You must overcome this dilemma unless you don’t mind using 100% of your resources to meet survival needs.

In selling it’s today’s sales and tomorrows appointments. And if you haven’t got tomorrow’s appointments handled, you will remain in survival!

If that’s where you find yourself, I would urge you to go through all this information several times, specifically focused on extracting the ideas that will move you beyond survival behaviour.

Selling Big Ticket Items

The main point I want to make here, is whether you are selling big ticket items or small, the same selling criteria apply. People are people. The ‘E’ factors that influence the sale of a jet will be no different from those that influence the sale of a much smaller item. What does change is the lead time to a sale — that is the amount of time that elapses between first contact and closure of the sale). I’m told it takes approximately two and a half years to reach closure on a jet!

And with this kind of extended transaction, a relationship will inevitably develop between the sales pro and the prospect. Such a relationship is usually fostered over many a meeting, business lunch, dinner, even game of golf. The quality of that relationship, of course is largely dependant on the ’people skills’ of the parties involved – most importantly, on those of the sales professional! Those ‘E’ factors again!

The most important thing you must remember about negotiated sales is to be willing to Not make the sale.

If you are going to make a negotiated sale, you need to blend negotiation strategies with selling strategies. If price is going to be negotiated then the way you present price becomes extremely important.

Personally I like to offer discount once, in order to intercept further price negotiations. I’ll say something like … “Now the regular off the street rate for this is X dollars, but our long term repeat clients frankly only have to pay Y dollars. I think you and I are going to work together for some time to come so I am going to give you the Y dollar rate right now, that creates a deduction of B dollars from the price of A dollars, your net is only C dollars”.

Be willing not to make a sale!

Just about any negotiating expert will tell you that the person most willing to walk away without a deal has the most power!

It’s a cold, hard fact that in a seller/prospect situation, the negotiating equation is not evenly balanced. The seller is replaceable, so the buyer is almost always the one most willing to walk away. You can’t truthfully trump that, but you can become more skilled at how you handle the situation.

There are two keys to dealing with such negotiations:

1 –You have to have enough flow of good prospects coming to you, to honestly feel there is another bus coming just around the corner.

2 – You have to know that a client or customer obtained through too much compromise is bound to become a problem later. At some point you have to say to yourself, “let my competitor have them, they deserve each other”

You cannot afford to feel that you must close the sale at any price under any terms. If that’s your mind-set and emotional position you’re soon going to be walking around with the ‘bloody shoes’. My intention is to negotiate in order to make the deal, but not to negotiate to beat competition.

I may be beginning to sound repetitive, but this brings us back to positioning. If your prospects come to you predisposed to do business with you, then negotiation really becomes team work. You both want the deal to happen, your prospect has certain limitations, you have certain limitations and requirements and negotiation becomes finding a way to support each other.

That is a much more manageable kind of negotiated sale.

When one of you is a competitive bidder you can’t tell if you are being told the truth about the other and you are obviously easily replaceable. That’s a very unpleasant selling environment and if it’s the kind of environment you work in now, I would make it a priority to change it in one of three ways.

1. Change the way you attract prospects i.e. create a Lead Generating System,

2. Change the entire game from apples to apples to apples to oranges – that is differentiate your product in some way.

3. Find a new customer to sell to in a different industry.

I Don’t Advocate Degrading Your Competitors Unless . . .

I would caution against selling by ‘degrading’ your competitors.

If its overdone it makes a statement to the marketplace, such as … “Hey everybody’s lousy, but we’re not quite as lousy as they are.” And that’s not a very exciting position to stake out.

I think you sell primarily from your own strength in order to beat the competition. On the other hand there are times when comparison to competitors is inevitable and must be done sometimes point by point.

And here is a little trick for those situations. Let the competitor have a small win somewhere. “To be honest they do a slightly better job of inventory back-up than we do, they probably same -day ship ninety percent of the time, we same day ship only about fifty percent of the time, the rest within the week. But if you just plan ahead a little we can work together without a hitch, and then there are all these other benefits”.

I think you gain believability by making such admissions. I do favour head to head comparisons when you can actually demonstrate superiority. I mean when your superiority is visual, dramatic and unequivocal.

The trump-card with competition though is positioning. “Price is not the issue, everybody would rather deal with the best, the one everybody else chooses to deal with”

If you can create that kind of impression, that kind of visibility—and be price competitive you’re going to win every time! That strategy integrates marketing, advertising, P.R. and sales. Rarely can a sales person make it happen all by themselves.

On the flip side the sales person can make themselves the deciding factor. “You get me” can be a powerful magnet. I watched a guy selling a very sophisticated software system installation and part of his pitch was…

“You get my office twenty four hour- a -day support number. Call at two o’clock in the morning, and the person who answers is going to ready and able to help you with any glitch, but if that doesn’t satisfy you then you can call my twenty four hour a day roving 1800 number. I’ll either answer you or call you back within thirty minutes, and if for some reason I don’t, you get my personal paging number for emergencies. I can run but I can’t hide, I don’t even take the pager off when I sleep – you got me”.

Well that’s pretty powerful, actually I’ll tell you what it say’s, it says, “This guy is damn sure of the quality of his installations and the skills of his support people or he wouldn’t dare make himself this accessible”.

Without blatantly knocking your competition you can plant seeds of doubt and uncertainty that will then germinate all on their own. It doesn’t take much for a negative thought to multiply, there’s a lot to be said for being the safe choice. You also want to find a way to highlight competitor’s weaknesses against the strengths you have.

You might highlight the David against Goliath syndrome … “I know that Goliath is a great company, a really formidable competitor, the only thing is, they have got so big in the last few years, they seem to be giving their attention to really big clients. Smaller companies just don’t get equal attention. You know there is a trade-off for a company like yours in having a relationship with a giant like that, on the other hand, to an organization like ours you are frankly a major account and we can grow together. You can count on being treated as a V.I.P……”

And, of course if you are the Goliath pitted against a David you have to flip all that around… “I know that David’s company is a great company, I hear they really provide a great service and we do see them as a formidable competitor. It’s just unfortunate that as small as they are they just can’t have all the back-up inventory, the extra service techs standing by to respond within an hour, those kinds of advantages that may be important to you. There is a trade-off in doing business with the little guy, you may get a bit more personal attention but…..”. and so on.

A car dealer on the outskirts of town could say “Look, admittedly we’re way the hell out here in no-where land and you are going to have to drive for an hour or so just to get to us, but because were out here in no-where land our overheads are much lower than all those fancy pants dealers with the big offices in the middle of the city. It costs less to do business out here and to live out here. Frankly we need every sale we can get, so we’ll pass every penny of our savings on to you, drive a little ,save a lot“.

Do you see how they have turned their disadvantage into a competitive advantage? Now that is smart!

For those of you who are thinking these strategies and tactics are right for some other industry or service, but not yours, I urge you to think again! You see everyone thinks that. Instead, choose to do as Thomas Edison did, take some time out and figure a way to weave some predictable magic through your sales process.

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