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Here’s an easy competitive advantage that most startups miss

Excellent pre-sales is an important thing to master for your business, and here’s why:

Because most service businesses do it badly.

So think of pre-sales this way. If you can master customer excellence, you immediately have a competitive advantage.

But what makes a great customer experience during the pre-sales phase? Here’s a guide to the most important factors you need to consider:

  • Transparent pricing. You might recoil at the idea of advertising the full details of your pricing, but here is why pricing is important. People want to see value. If you simply provide a fixed price without backing it up with details about what that price includes, it will be difficult for potential customers to understand what the value is of your service. So when I suggest transparent pricing, what I really mean is being absolutely transparent about the services a customer will get when they buy from you (and just as importantly, what services they won’t get).
  • Fast response times. I’ve walked away from contracts at the eleventh hour simply because I was getting slow responses from the company. The reason I’ve walked away is because it makes me question what the service will be like once I’ve signed and once I’ve paid my money. Many potential customers have exactly the same mindset. You need to demonstrate that you are quick to response before the contract is one, because it reassures your customer that you will be as responsive as your sales literature claims once they’ve signed.
  • Friendly. Customers like to work with people who they can relate to. That’s a simple fact. If you can form a solid relationship with a customer, exchanges start to feel more like a conversation and less like a sales pitch. That is important if you want to win customers, so work hard on building a rapport with your potential customers and breaking down those barriers.
  • Pressure-free zone. Successful selling doesn’t have to involve high-pressure sales. A far better strategy is to take your time to build up a rapport with a potential customer so that you establish a high level of trust. Trust is a far stronger factor than pressure when it comes to people signing for a service. So hold back on the high pressure sales tactics.
  • Giving something for free. Think about the last time you were at a food market. I’m going to bet that many of the stalls were offering a free sample of their delicious food. It’s obvious why they do this. They are so confident about their product that they know that one taste will convince people to buy it. So have the same confidence in your service. Offer a small sample of your services free of charge, so people can see just how fantastic you are, as this will give your customers the confidence to know that they won’t be disappointed when they buy from you.
  • Listening to the customer. I’ve sat in hundreds of sales meetings in my time and I often closely watch the reactions of the customer when the pitch is being presented. It’s interesting to see how much an individual’s face changes when the sales person quotes them word-for-word, because they know immediately that they are being listened to. If a customer believes that you listen to them rather than selling to them, it’s going to make a huge difference in winning their business.
  • Flexibility. I explained why responsiveness is important in pre-sales, and the same rule applies to the art of being flexible. This doesn’t mean you need to be flexible on pricing or services, but you do need to be flexible in areas that you have the ability to change, even if that’s something as small as the time and date scheduled for a phone call. Demonstrating flexibility prior to a sale shows the customer that you will be easy to work with.
  • High quality sales material. Spending time and money on high quality sales material helps you position yourself as a premium company with a premium high quality offering. It doesn’t matter what you are selling. If you want to demonstrate quality and value, you need to showcase that in every aspect of your business, and that includes sales material.

Have a look at these different areas and ask yourself honestly how many you are currently doing well. If there are areas you can improve on, then make that change today as it is going to have a huge impact on your business. If you are a  startup and haven’t approached your first customer yet, then put this in place from day one. It’s going to make that first sale far easier, and when you are new to an industry you need to grab every advantage you can.

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