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All’s Fair in Biz When It Comes to Competition



Question: How can I steal a satisfied customer from my competitor?

Answer:

All is not lost the next time you meet a prospective customer who says he’s perfectly happy with an existing supplier.

On the contrary, you have a marvelous opportunity to steal a satisfied customer.

Why? Because in our fiercely competitive business world, it’s a cold, hard fact that there’s always room to grow.

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Yes, there are ways to infiltrate the target customer and supplant a competitor who may have grown fat, dumb and happy.

Here are some winning tactics to consider.


– Do your homework

Research the target. Learn as much as you can about the client’s business and industry.

Find out about his/her business procedures and corporate philosophy. Perhaps you’ll stumble across an Achilles’ heel that the competing supplier has left vulnerable and unprotected.

Also, digging for facts could divulge important personality characteristics or idiosyncrasies of the decision-maker. This could be your entry to developing a business relationship.


– Aim for the heart

For example, if the prospective client is an avid sports fan, get him/her a subscription to a sports magazine. You’ll be a champion in his eyes.


– Be creative

Established, proven sales strategies may not always work when wooing a satisfied client, so use your creativity and originality instead.


– The waiting game

Patience is a virtue when pursuing satisfied clients. It may take months, even years, of hearing, “We don’t want to change.”

Dogged persistence is key.

You may need a long-range campaign strategy that might involve a series of meetings, including lunches, tours of your company, meetings with your key technical people, and appointments at out-of-town trade shows.

A positive meeting between you and the target customer can be considered a modest victory.


– Relationship is key

A good rapport is essential in stealing a satisfied customer. Chemistry is often more important than qualifications.

If you’re a boss, then carefully consider the personalities of key salespeople and the decision-makers you want to sway.

Once you’ve created a good, solid personal relationship, then a salesperson can probe tactfully for information about competitors and discover new business opportunities.


– Remain enthusiastic and confident

With each visit to the so-called satisfied customer, don’t forget to smile and convey eagerness and confidence.

Stay poised, positive and self-assured.

With confident expectations, you demonstrate a zealous conviction in your company’s ability to offer the client better service and quality than your competitor.


Written by Sheryl Charleston, the president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Better Business Bureau.

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