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Answering the Age Old Question, "Why buy from you?"

14 May, 2004 By: Rick Lambert imageSource

Answering the Age Old Question, "Why buy from you?"

What would you say if I asked you, “Why I should buy from your company?”
Would I hear a polished response that incorporates references of success in
“like” accounts with similar contacts? Would I listen to the bias personal
opinion of a commission-motivated seller? Or, would I be bombarded with a long
list of speeds and feeds, that you and I both know, could be echoed in a
heartbeat by your competition and offered, at least according to them, at a
lower price.

Knowing how to respond in a unique, yet professional manner will allow you to
gain headway in your quest to succeed in sales. Below you will find five
guidelines to help develop your own distinctive message, which will allow you to
shorten your sales cycles, increase your win rates, and protect your precious

Tip #1 - Be prepared with a well rehearsed response to the cornerstone
question, “Why yours and not the competition’s?” Be warned, if the customer
isn’t asking you directly, they’re undoubtedly thinking about it.

No matter where I speak, or to what industry, I have found similar responses
from sales reps to the question, “Why?” They instantly give me a flash of
confidence as they clear their throats, adjust their ties, take deep breaths,
and deliver a pitch that, they themselves agree in the end, is the exact same
thing that their competition could be saying to their prospective buyers.

When I put reps through a second round of questioning I’ll ask, “Your
competitors are saying the same things, so why should I go with your offering
instead of theirs?” Unfortunately, the conversation typically breaks down from
there with a few, “Yeah, but…” responses and ends with, “It’s cause they like

While I agree that people buy from people they like, and selling is a
relationship business, if you don’t have a prevailing relationship with a
willing and able buyer, how can you expect to prove yourself and your company to
the prospect?

Here’s what most salespeople tell me “why” I should buy their output device
versus their competitors:

1. Productivity

2. Reliability/Service

3. Quality of Output

4. User Friendliness

5. Me

Be honest, does this list sound like the verbiage you hear in your office? Of
course, if you’re a seasoned veteran in the print/copy arena you may have “Me”
ranked higher than the fifth position, and I would agree. “Me” may carry more
weight in the eyes of the buyer if you’ve been around long enough to upgrade the
equipment you initially installed years before. In this case, both you and your
company have proven yourself over time. In essence, you have successfully
answered two questions, “why you?” and “why yours?” Congratulations, this is the
most powerful sales offense to top the competition!

For less tenured reps, I have found the list above to be generally reflective
of their beliefs about customer buying criteria. However, when I ask reps if
they feel the competition is saying the same things about their business, they
agree with me 100 percent of the time. Then I ask where the word “price” appears
in the buying criteria.

In my eleven plus years of selling and managing copier salespeople, I would
frequently hear my prospects say things such as: “Price isn’t the most important
thing to us. We’re more concerned with the reliability of the machine.” This
classic comment tends to come early in the buying cycle before the customer
realizes that there may be a dozen brands that can provide them with a similar
solution. Quite often as a young rep, I found that when I got to the end of the
deal the dynamics of the original “buying criteria” had changed dramatically.
Somehow the price a customer was willing to pay for this “solution” would move
it’s ugly head from the back of the pack to contend for the No. 1 spot in the
customers final decision. If this is the case, are you really selling a solution
or a commodity in the customer’s eyes?

Since reps often find themselves battling with the competition over price
considerations, the “why” question, as basic as it is, becomes more important.
Selling the most expensive copiers in the industry for the first seven years of
my career, I had to learn how to differentiate my company and myself to win
fast. If the customer saw no differentiation between Rick’s copier versus the
alternatives, price became the only distinguishing variable. The best reps I’ve
had the opportunity to work with are well prepared to answer the “why” question
by incorporating the power of leveraging references to put their products in the
pole position.

Tip #2 - Incorporate relevant references of “like” accounts and
comments from “like” titled individuals who have selected your offering over
your competitor’s. Let’s face it; people want to know what other people in
similar situations are buying.

Welcome the opportunity to share information with a potential client with the
following, “Mr. Customer, I can give you my personal opinion on why you should
select my product, or I can share with you why other customers in your
position—looking at similar alternatives—have selected our offering … which
would you prefer?” Great reps don’t wait for the opportunity to use this; they
gain trust by sharing references with a potential client and move forward from

Tip #3 - Ask customers why they chose to work with you and your
company over the competition. As a professional sales coach, I can tell you
there is no better feedback than that of your customers. Traditional sales
training teaches reps to ask why they lost. We teach reps to request and learn
from winning accounts. The comments can convert third party validation into
future monies on the next sales call.

Tip #4 - Invite new customers into your sales meetings to discuss why
they chose to work with you and your company and not someone else’s. Their
thoughts, in exchange for a few bucks off the initial supply order or a lunch
out, will boost your team’s confidence, your win rates, and your margins!
Executing this idea live or over the phone will create a sales meeting that no
rep would want to miss.

Herein lies the information you want to answer the question, “Why yours?”
Don’t be afraid to ask for more details or specifics. These are the opinions you
will use to help formulate your pitch, and are the companies you will refer to
as examples for “like” prospects. In my experience, 90 percent of the time,
potential customers would prefer a similar existing customer’s opinions to that
of sales reps.

Tip #5 - Practice your responses to the point where they become second
nature. Role-play your most common scenarios, incorporating responses about
specific accounts you have won in the area.

Having played the sport of hockey in Canada at all levels, the best players
were typically the ones who were last to leave the ice after practice. The elite
athletes would repeat a move hundreds of times before attempting to execute that
action at game speed. Utilize sales tools, including multimedia sales practices
that simulate real life selling scenarios to perfect behavioral execution. While
some may call it good, old fashioned role-playing, it is an art that has gone
extinct in too many sales bullpens that wrestle with this challenge of

To those that really do want to sell to win, this consultative technique is
sure to compliment your product knowledge with relevant third party information,
which a prospect will find more convincing than a talk track you might have used
had you not read this article!

Rick Lambert is the President of selltowin.com. Rick was voted No.1
Motivational Sales Coach of the Year in 2003 by over 200 US businesses and has
been selected “Sales Trainer of the Year 2004” finalist by Sales and Marketing
Management Magazine. Rick delivers customized motivational sales training events
and sales performance solutions to corporate clients throughout North America
and can be reached at info@selltowin.com or by calling 866.selltowin.


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