As I travel around the country meeting with disaster restoration contractors, one of the first questions I ask them is “what makes your company special, or different, or better than your competition?” What I hear used to surprise me, but now I’m just concerned!
I’m usually told something like this: “we care more”, or “we are very professional”, or “we have a better system”, or “our people are IICRC trained”, even comments like “we have an in-house graphics person” and more of the same elusive, hard to quantify comments.
It is unfortunate that these same contractors think because they have nice looking brochures – extolling the great services they provide, or graphic wrapped vehicles, they have deluded themselves into believing THEY are at the top of the heap in their market area. While all of these things are important, they aren’t the most important factors in being the leader in the region. In fact, contractors should have professional looking in literature, uniforms, and vehicles. That should simply be the most basic of initial benchmarks, along with IICRC trained and skilled technicians.
I also hear on a regular basis that the sales/marketing staff does an awesome job of Stop, Drop and Roll (my words – not theirs) marketing, and their “clients” (usually insurance agents) “give them all of their losses.” What I find somewhat frustrating and can’t tell them is that often ALL the contractors in the same market area tell me the exact same thing about the same agents they all call on. In a couple of communities, I even know some agents who tell me they refuse to do business with a certain contractor, but that contractor claims to get “all of her business!” Many times contractors will name clients that claim to send them all their losses, but I hear the same thing from competing restoration companies.
Somehow, so many contractors have failed to realize that it’s NOT ABOUT THEM! The plumber doesn’t care that you have the biggest, fastest, hottest, supersucker machine. Nor do they care that your staff is IICRC certified, and they definitely don’t care about your four-color tri-fold glossy brochures. Quite frankly, nobody cares – except maybe you and possibly your ego. Yes, you need great brochures, but for the right reason.
It has to be about THEM. This means learning about their business, about their industry, about their challenges, their issues, their problems or pains, and then brings answers to them to help them overcome as many of these pains as possible. If your client is a plumber, they have unique pains to their business. If you are calling on managers of hotels, then you should know as much as you can about the hospitality industry and especially the challenges that property manager faces every day.
Many of you are probably saying right about now “how in the world can I possibly learn that kind of info?” If you Google “hospitality industry” you will get over 11 million hits (in less than one second) – from White Papers to Blogs, to Photo’s, to Video’s, History, Statistics and more. Google and other search engines have made it easy – to know all about whom you are trying to do business. There is no valid reason to remain uninformed about your prospect and certainly no reason to call on them if you are uninformed. They deserve to do business with a company that knows and understands their business issues. And, if you don’t intuitively know this, another company IS going to take the time to become very familiar with their prospect’s business and take the opportunity away from you.
If you are still puzzled about why it should be about THEM, the fact is that they care about themselves – not about you. When the copy machine salesman calls on you and tells you that his company is a member of the Toner Cartridge Association or that they have the cleanest repair vans of any of their competition, you would probably throw them out of your office. On the other hand, if the salesperson knew about your company, how you might use the proposed machine, understood what kind of work you did – and for whom, or was able to demonstrate ways to make your business more successful, you would be far more impressed and likely more willing to give the rep an opportunity.
Some companies like to “fly under the radar” as they are growing, and others like to make a huge splash and shout their services from the rooftops. Either way is quite acceptable, depending on your business strategy and plan. Most important though, is to make sure you don’t get lulled into a false sense of security of thinking your company is miles ahead of the competition because one day, when you least expect it, you may get blindsided by that quiet under-the-radar company that crept up on you while you thought you were king of the hill.
Dick Wagner is a National Sales Coach and Consultant.