One of an office equipment dealer’s biggest challenges is increasing share in a market that’s been taught that solutions are interchangeable and price is everything.
The predictable outcome is less margin and sales for dealers. But if you refocus customers on the unique value you bring to the table, you can hold your margins and increase your sales.
Don’t Assume Customers Understand Your Value
It’s easy to assume customers understand all the value you offer. It’s right there in front of them, right? The problem is, that value is obvious to you, but not to them. You need to spell it out – clearly and often. To new customers and veterans. To prospects and customers you’re sure would never go anywhere else. To everyone, all the time. And it takes everyone in your organization – they all need to be crystal clear on the value you add and communicate it at every opportunity.
Don’t Do Too Much
Your solutions should be complete, but you don’t need to solve every problem. In fact, you can’t, at least not at the level you need to. Focus on your strengths and don’t fall into the trap of trying to be everything to everyone. You’ll just get stretched too thin, disappoint customers sooner or later and run the risk of later having to drop a service your customers have come to depend on because it’s not feasible to continue offering it. Stick to what you do best. Better to offer a few flawless diamonds than a bucket of cubic zirconia.
Do Take on More Than Your Customers Expect
While you shouldn’t focus on too much, where you do focus, you should be extraordinary. Deeply understand the problem you’re attempting to solve from your customer’s point of view. Cover every aspect. Take everything off your customer’s plate and put it onto yours. Then go further. Give customers capabilities and conveniences they didn’t even know they needed. Like software, update their solutions at regular intervals, adding incremental value without adding cost (and like software, periodically offer new and improved solutions that justify a larger customer investment).
Keep the Spotlight on Solutions, not Products
Customers don’t buy means, they buy ends. And they buy solutions to problems, not equipment.
When dealers focus on individual equipment and its specs and capabilities, they too often spend a lot of time selling customers on the equipment, then lose the sale to any outlet that can provide it for less. They do all of the work and get none of the profit.
Do Tier Your Solutions
Rather than offering monolithic, take-it-or-leave it solutions, give your customers a few options: basic, step-up and premium. However, don’t get bogged down in the particular equipment and software at the heart of these solution tiers. Focus instead on solution benefits: increased capability and productivity, more peace of mind, etc. Keep it simple and focused on customer needs and wants. And be sure to offer those tiers with one monthly payment each, instead of breaking out the various costs and billing separately for them. A leasing and financing solution that integrates new and used equipment, software, services, incidentals, etc. is an enormous help in this regard.
Don’t Make Customers Reach for Their Wallets
One solution, one monthly payment. Customers should never have to pay separately for any aspect of their solution. Having to do so disrupts the integrated experience that’s so important to your success. The more it happens, the more customers begin thinking about solution components – and the feasibility of buying and assembling those components themselves (and in the process forgetting the value you provide). Don’t let it happen. Offer everything the customer needs under one umbrella solution with simple billing that covers the whole thing. If customers need more, step them up to another solution tier, rather than going ala carte, which is confusing to customers and hard to manage for you.
Make Your Solutions Complete and Unique
Faced with customers defecting to competitors, some dealers bundle equipment, supplies and maybe software into a solution and sell that. This is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t do enough to take the focus off the components of the solution, mainly equipment. It leaves customers thinking they could just as easily buy those components and assemble them on their own. Or pay a contractor to do it for them and still pay less overall – or so they imagine.
To combat this, take your solutions to the next level. Include solution design. Maintenance. White-glove support. End-of-life equipment removal or replacement. In other words, everything – all precisely tailored to your customers’ unique challenges, all under your brand umbrella, all financed for one affordable monthly payment. Make it a solution your customers can’t get anywhere else for any price and you take the focus off price and put it back on the value you uniquely offer.
Highlight Your Unique Value and Increase Your Sales
Competition is a fact of business. But so is your unique competitive position. Take back control of the sales conversation and increase your market share by leveraging your value as an indispensable part of the solutions your customers need.