How Serving, Not Selling, Helps You Stand Out From the Competition

I’m often asked by business owners and salespeople alike how they can be more competitive in the marketplace. I hear, “What can we do to stand out from the competition in our industry?” “How can we be different?” “What can I do to help people remember me and what I do?”

While I’m a huge fan of the concept of “different is good,” just being different isn’t enough. There are certain parameters for making yourself or your company memorable in a positive way. One of the first ways to stand out as a salesperson or as a business is to truly put the customer first. This may sound trite, but when you demonstrate a business personality of “we’re here to serve” as opposed to “look how great we are,” “we’re number one,” or “we have the best products around,” you’ll attract more business.

Serving Your Clients

I often advise my students to keep themselves humble in business and adopt an attitude of servitude. After all, that's what we do in sales. We serve the needs of others. We are professional problem solvers. People come to us for our expert advice and our ability to get things done.

It's an age-old concept that buyers really only want to know what’s in it for them when they consider doing business with you. That’s why I suggest leading the sales process with questions to determine which benefits of your offering will be best received by each client. Too many people in sales think that selling means they talk, talk, talk about their products and how great their company is. What I’ve learned is that telling isn’t selling. Asking questions, listening to the answers, and analyzing the meaning of those answers as they relate to client needs is what selling is really all about.

Think about what information you need to know in order to determine if someone is a good candidate for your product. What are their needs as they relate to your product's benefits? Create a list of questions the answers to which provide that information you need. Then, build the list into your sales process.

Rather than coming across as an interrogator trying to get to the bottom of their story, ask your questions in a conversational manner. Take the time to really take in and think about what they’re telling you. Make notes of important points you can use when you present the benefits your product provides.

Stand Out From the Competition

With a servant attitude, you’ll definitely come across as being different than the competition.

  • When buyers recognize genuine concern rather than seeing dollar signs in your eyes, you’ll more quickly reduce sales resistance than your competition.
  • When you reach out to existing clients to see if they’re still happy with your products, they’ll grasp that you’re truly interested in their satisfaction.
  • When you share non-business information or something lighthearted you think they might enjoy, you’re building relationships.
  • When you bring valuable new knowledge or even referred leads to your clients, you’ll be viewed as an important asset.

Don’t let every client contact be about business or about selling something. Yes, your clients will benefit from the products you get them involved in, but you gain income as well. You both know that. And there are people in the world who don’t like the idea of being sold.

I teach my students to send hand-written thank you notes to everyone they meet whether it’s a sales situation or not. When you contact people just to demonstrate that you care—to check in with them—that’s when you become a servant. Servants in sales become depended upon, valued, and remembered. They’re thought of when a friend or associate mentions their industry. Referrals are made. Business grows.

Tom Hopkins is a world-renowned sales trainer. The practical, how-to selling strategies he teaches are simple, yet powerful when applied. He is also a co-presenter on the 17 Biblical Principles of Success. Learn more at The 17 Biblical Principles of Success or by following him on Twitter.

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