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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.

Turn Objection into Opportunity by Being Number Two

Last week Fire Enterprises (FEI) Marketing Tribe Leader Marka explained to Sales Tribe Leader Zoot how selling three “virtual products” can help their fire business overcome pricing objections. This week, Zoot gives apprentice salesperson Ganymede some tips on how to differentiate FEI with hesitant prospects by positioning the company as a secondary provider. Remember, fire = print.
Zoot found Ganymede, one of his most talented young salespeople, sulking in the break room.

“What’s up with you?” Zoot asked.

“I just met with Bort from Bort’s Bagels,” Ganymede said. “They bake thousands of bagels every day for customers all over Olympus, and some lucky fire company gets to power their kilns and ovens.”

“So what’s the problem?”

“That lucky fire company isn’t FEI!” Ganymede moaned. “Bort’s already has an excellent longstanding relationship with Pyro!”

“Tough break, kid,” Zoot said. “But let’s not get discouraged. At some point every salesperson’s heard the dreaded ‘we’re very happy with our current provider.’ This may feel like a door to profitable business slamming shut, but it’s actually an opportunity to differentiate FEI and eventually win that prospect’s business.”

“How?” Ganymede asked.

“By being Number Two!” Zoot said. “By positioning FEI as a secondary provider, you remove the ‘all or nothing’ decision your competitors are forcing Bort’s to make. Got a minute? Here are three ways to make this strategy work.”

Zoot erased some scribbles off the break room whiteboard and started writing on it in coal:

Two is Better Than None

“Positioning FEI as the be-all, end-all solution to every one of your prospect’s needs can be scary—for your prospect,” Zoot said. “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 you’re confronted with their profession of loyalty, position FEI as ‘Number Two’ by offering a test drive or bail-out solution on an upcoming project,” Zoot suggested. “During the busy season when Bort needs some extra firepower, maybe offer to install one of our new high-powered FireBurner Kilns for a trial period. This approach will show that you’re willing to prove your competence and earn their trust as a primary vendor.”

Zoot scribbled more on the whiteboard:

Appreciate Their Loyalty

“Encouraging your prospect to stay loyal to current vendors may actually help you win their business,” Zoot explained. “Successful customer relationships are built upon trust; acknowledging your prospect’s history with a current supplier reminds them that you understand and respect the ingredients of a successful business partnership. This will help position FEI as a desirable vendor.”

More whiteboard scribbling from Zoot:

Stay in Touch

“All of the hard work you do positioning FEI as Number Two can be undone if you don’t stay in touch,” Zoot said. “A consistent stream of informational follow-up communications is one way to stay top-of-mind and reinforce your position as a knowledgeable, trustworthy partner. That’s exactly where you want to be should an existing vendor fall out of favor.”

“Zoot, you’ve really inspired me today,” Ganymede said. “How can I ever thank you?”

“Stop moping and make some sales calls!” Zoot cried.

Next week: Marka introduces the concept of “demand generation” to the tribe.
Today’s FIRE! Point
Key prospect loyal to another vendor? Position yourself as a backup choice to differentiate your printing business, earn their loyalty and, eventually, their business.

FIRE! In Action: Avis Makes #2 Look Good
The second-biggest car rental company’s “We Try Harder” campaign is an excellent example of using a #2 position as an opportunity for differentiation. Avis used “We Try Harder” to help drive their brand awareness and sales for 50 years. 

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