Elite service providers, the top 5%, have the biggest and most profitable clients. These Strategic Partners rarely compete on price, and they do well in good and bad markets. What do these elite providers do differently than the rest of us to win in competition? The short answer is that they engage clients at a deeper personal and professional level, a Third Level. That leads to greater success and career satisfaction and less price competition.
From the client’s perspective, top competitors pretty much look the same. On the other hand, clients feel that their situation, project, people, preferences, and process are unique. Most professionals who sell services try to force clients to recognize and value increasingly nuanced differences in their capabilities (I call this “vendor differentiation”).
Strategic Partners create client preference and loyalty by finding and aligning to what is unique about the client, the project, client preferences, and process (I call this “client differentiation”), and then marshalling the resources of their company to implement a completely unique solution that helps their client win.
How Clients Choose
When clients have a choice among service providers, they differentiate their universe of alternatives using the following questions and levels:
Can you do it? If so, you are a Level 1: a Qualified Provider. In my experience 80% of service providers fall into this category. They can tell you what they do but not effective at communicating that they are better than their competitors.
Can you do it better than most? If so, you are Level 2: a Preferred Provider. Preferred providers are usually very experienced and technically accomplished. They can clearly communicate how they are different and better than competitors, and they represent about 15% of service providers
Will you/ do you take care of me? If so, you are Level 3: a Strategic Partner. Strategic Partners are not only technically superior, their distinction is that they are motivated to utilize all of their resources to help their clients win. By doing so they not only win more, but they create delighted clients who actually sell for them. Their clients give them all of their follow on business and actively advocate for them in the market place. Their clients become their surrogate sales force.
Once clients narrow their options to a short list of highly capable alternatives, nuanced differences in capabilities cease to be a factor in their final choice. Top competitors pretty much look the same. At this level everybody is qualified. On the other hand, client’s feel that their situation, project, people, preferences and process are unique.
Where most service professionals are wasting time trying to force clients to recognize and value increasingly nuanced differences in their capabilities (Vendor Differentiation), elite, Third Level service providers win in competition by finding and aligning to what is unique about the client, the project, client preferences and decision process (Client Differentiation).
Clients want to work with someone they know and trust, someone who knows their situation, their project, their preferences and their process better. In other words, instead of wanting to know more about the providers, they want providers to know more about them. They don’t want to work with a vendor. They want to work with a partner. Instead of forcing the client to differentiate between competitors, Third Level Service Selling shows service providers how to differentiate on the client. If you can find and align to that uniqueness, the client will view you as a partner and not just another vendor.
In these courses you will learn how to:
- Identify and master the communication skills that elite providers employ to build strategic partnerships, win in competition and retain committed clients
- Recognize why and how clients choose one service provider over another
- Recognize that price decisions are frequently self inflicted because price is the last of 10 choice factors
- Understand and align to predictable client decision patterns in order to reduce friction and enable faster choices
- Accelerate business relationships by learning how to engage clients in a strategic and more client-centric level
- Accelerate client understanding, agreement and commitment to your recommendations
- Determine and align to unique characteristics and client execution preferences
- Build client preference for your solutions through more a differentiated rational and emotional value proposition
- Consistently get first and last look
- Get chosen away from price
The bottom line is that you will win more business without competing on price