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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Overcoming Objections - Become Your Prospect’s Number Two Choice

Last week, FEI sales leader Zoot taught young salesman Ganymede how to overcome customer and prospect complaints that “Your price is too high!” This week, the duo discusses how to kick another objection to the curb: loyalty to an existing provider. Remember, fire = print.

One sun-drenched Saturday, Ganymede ran into Zoot while jogging in Olympus Park. Zoot was walking his poodle. Like its owner, the dog had immaculately groomed hair and excellent posture.

Ganymede rubbed the dog’s head. “Beautiful pooch! What’s his name?”

“Noot,” Zoot said with pride.

“You named your dog Noot?” Ganymede asked with a tone of disbelief, mentally noting that it made sense that vain Zoot would give his dog almost the same name as himself.

“Sure did,” Zoot said. “Having a pleasant Saturday?”

“Actually, I have a lot on my mind,” Ganymede admitted. “Lately, I’ve encountered several prospects who won’t budge because of unwavering loyalty to their existing fire service providers. They keep slamming the door in my face—sometimes literally!”

“I was going to ask about that bruise,” Zoot chuckled. “Don’t view prospect loyalty to existing vendors as a problem. It is actually an opportunity to differentiate your company and eventually win the business. How? By becoming the number two choice!”

“Why waste my time and effort going after a prospect that clearly prefers someone else?” Ganymede asked naively.

“What if Hercules Jones—the understudy who ended up playing the role of Achilles in Athens Theater’s production of The Iliad—had thought that?” Zoot asked rhetorically. “You never know when number one will let your prospect down and you’ll get a chance. Any day, the current number one could raise its prices, go out of business, blow a critical deadline, or commit some other grievous mistake. And you’ll be waiting.”

“So how do I establish FEI as the number two choice?” Ganymede asked.
“Let me answer this question by way of analogy,” Zoot replied. “Take Noot here. I’ve owned him for four years, and he’s loyal to me. Say you wanted to take Noot for your own.”

“I would never!” Ganymede said.

“It’s an analogy!” Zoot remind him. “If you told Noot he had to immediately choose between you or me, he’d choose me, of course. But say instead you offered to walk Noot every day for the next two weeks. This ‘test-drive’ would allow Noot to get comfortable with you and recognize that you care about him. Then, if I happened to be carried off by the Cyclops one day, Noot would have an easy choice for his new owner.”

“Yet most number twos trying to become number ones force prospects to make that ‘all or nothing’ decision,” Ganymede said with understanding.

“Positioning yourself as the be-all, end-all solution to every one of your prospect’s needs can be scary—for your prospect,” Zoot continud. “Change is always difficult, and your prospect won’t make a decision in your favor if you insist on every ounce of their business.

“Once a prospect confesses vendor loyalty, position yourself as number two by offering a test drive or bail-out solution from our company on an upcoming fire project. This approach will show that you’re willing to prove your competence and earn a potential buyer’s trust as a primary supplier.”

“Wonderful,” Ganymede said, rubbing Noot’s head. “Hey boy...can I take you for a walk tomorrow?”

“Oh no you don’t,” Zoot joked, pulling the leash away from Ganymede.

Today’s FIRE! Point
The loyalty of a prospect to a current vendor is not a problem; it’s an opportunity for you to differentiate yourself and win the business. Instead of hard-selling your printing company as the end-all, be-all solution, settle for being the number two choice. Then, when the prospect’s number one lets them down, you’ll be waiting in the wings. Offering prospects a “test drive” or sample of your services will show them you’re willing to prove your competence and earn their trust as a primary supplier.

FIRE! in Action: Many Businesses Succeed by Being the Second Choice

With 29.9 percent market share to Coke’s 41 percent, Pepsi is on average the second choice for American soft drink buyers. Yet, PepsiCo has stayed strong by diversifying into snack foods and pouncing on Coke’s missteps—such as “New Coke.”

Next week: Zoot and Ganymede discuss more strategies for going from number two to number one with that hot prospect.

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