When someone makes a purchase they buy more than just a product or service. At the time the product or service is probably the most important element, but they also buy a range of benefits that can over the long-term become their reason for being satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchase and with your business.
These are called ‘added’ benefits because you add them to the products or services that you sell. They can make a big difference in how customers see your business and be an important differentiator between you and your competitors.
Make a list of the added benefits you provide. These can include:
– A product guarantee or warranty that reassures customers
– The service given by the sales team during a purchase
– The availability of your backup service – 24 hours, 7 days?
– The speed with which your company fills customers’ orders
– The follow-up from your business after the purchase
– How your location suits customers – is it convenient?
– Their perceptions of your business – stable, efficient, friendly?
– The quality of your product offerings – all your products and services
– Manufacturing locally – appeals to their sense of patriotism
– Your premises – attractive, clean, bright?
Some added benefits cost you nothing or very little. The way your sales team treats customers is a function of staff selection and training, and that doesn’t add much to your total wages costs. Others, such as the condition of your premises can be as costly as you want to make them.
It’s up to you as the manager to determine how far you’re willing to go to deliver the best package of added benefits with everything you sell.
Once you’ve listed your own added benefits, list the added benefits provided by your competitors. If they’re more successful than you at selling the same or very similar products the reasons could well be their added benefits package.
Conduct some simple research using groups of your own customers, and those of your biggest competitors if possible. Let customers tell you how they value the benefits you add, and how your benefits compare with your competitors’. Ask them for their suggestions as to what additional benefits you could provide to increase your sales.
Incorporate their comments with your own perceptions and analyze every added benefit that you and your competitors provide. Note why these benefits are attractive to customers and whether each is expensive or inexpensive to provide.
Are there some that are impossible for you to match (for example, location)? Which are you now providing but capable of improving? Which are you not now providing but could provide with minimal additional expenses?
Remember, you’re trying to put together the best package of benefits and probably won’t be able to match the competition in every category.
Now be creative and devise some new added benefits that aren’t on your lists. These can be time-related – offer a free inspection or service in twelve months, financial benefits – a guaranteed trade-in value on the old one when repurchasing, or an add-on such as ‘spend $30 more and get $100 worth of genuine accessories’. Add some benefits nobody else is offering and stand out from the competition.
Once you’ve worked out the full contents of your added benefits package you have to find a way to communicate them to your existing and potential customers. Start by educating every member of your team – not just salespeople but everyone in your business. Give each person a list of your added benefits so anyone receiving an enquiry is familiar with all of them.
Summarize these benefits for customers. You could put them into your monthly invoices, display them on the walls of your office, use them in your advertisements, or include them on the calendars you give away at Christmas. Just be sure your customers know what else comes with every purchase they make.
By putting together a really attractive package of added benefits and making sure everybody knows about them you’ll be able to increase sales at the expense of your competitors.
Article courtesy of RAN ONE: http://www.ranone.com/features/news.asp?ID=3963