All of us have competitors, whether it's someone who is pumping out a similar product, or someone who wants to snag our top job candidate. Whatever the competition, we want to win. Todd Berger, president and CEO of Transportation Solutions Enterprises (TSE), a Chicago-based transportation and logistics firm provides some inside advice on how to stand out from your competition.
Highlight deficiencies by competitors. Find opportunity where competition fell short. If prospective clients share how they've been burned in the past, show proof of how your company excelled.
Offer a diverse suite of services. Don't make this so extreme to where it's tough for costumers to make an association, but make your company a one-stop shop for customers. For instance, if customers use your product or service as one part of a larger process, consider offering those other points of that process.
Offer insight. Be selfless and offer expert knowledge and suggestions. Building rapport early is key to not only facilitating communication, but building a credible reputation. Give the contact you're calling on suggestions on better options based on market intel, even if that means not taking their business because your company truly isn't the best resource for them. Deflecting that sale and giving up half a million dollars may seem crazy now, but circumstances can change and they could be a $50 million client five years down the road because of that built trust.
Understand their industry. Show how you fit into the prospective client's world. If they produce products, take a picture of your staff using them and send it to them. Have you bought their product as a gift for someone? Take a picture of them unwrapping it, sharing how the company is a part of a personal experience. Show them how your company can be an extension of theirs. This is just one creative way of doing that.
Don't be annoying. Picture being in their shoes and develop a sense of empathy. Would you want to receive three calls from the same person in one week? Or would a hand-written letter make more of an impact? Being respectful of a person's time and treating them like an actual human rather than a sale can go a long way. Send them a congratulations banner if they were promoted, a welcome mat if they move. Think of ways to connect past the scheduled phone calls.
Customer Experience: At TSE, we say, 'you're only as good as your last load.' So while the company may be great, the reputation relies on the last transaction or interaction with the company. A reputation can be diminished if the delivery was late, if the employee was rude, or if the order was wrong and the cost wasn't covered. This bad experience can either diminish the possibility of that customer becoming a repeat, or prevent them from referring the company to their network. In the world of word-of-mouth referrals, a bad experience can cause a downward spiral...quickly.
Hire smart, nice people. In order to execute any of the above effectively, this is crucial.Be known in the marketplace as the company with the fun group of professionals who are not only intelligent and hardworking, but who are nice and empathetic...the staff that will hustle and stop at nothing to get something done. Be known as the company whose employees pick up every call, who come up with solutions before there is a problem, and who are honest when things aren't going as planned. Be known as the company with the staff everyone wants.