“Why should I buy from you?” said the prospect to the anxious salesperson. There was an awkward silence, and then the salesperson responded with a lot of conversation about superior service, great staff and competitive prices. The prospect stared blankly at the salesperson and then turned to his wife and said, “Isn’t that what the last place said?” She nodded her head in agreement, then slowly turned and left the showroom. The salesperson turned to the owner and asked, “What should I have said?”
Most cabinet dealers wouldn’t really know how to respond. They like to talk about their superior service and years of experience, but that story doesn’t seem to play to everyone. And with how tough business is, the owner really just wants to know what to say to get the prospect to buy.
The Real Story
Here is the real story: There is no one thing you can say that will get every prospect to buy from you. There are many different types of people who are all searching for different things from a cabinet dealer. Your challenge is that you can’t be all things to all people. You must make a choice about how your business is unique – and that choice will mean that some people will never buy from you. Your goal is to find a way to be unique so that enough prospects will have a preference for doing business with you.
7 Ways to be Unique
There are many ways that businesses can choose to be unique but only 7 of them are important and valuable to prospects. They are:
- Breadth of Product
- Breadth of Service
- Quality of Product
- Quality of Service
Just Pick One for Pete’s Sake
Being unique means taking one of these seven business characteristics and exceeding the standard that is present in your marketplace. Notice how I said “one” (not three, not one and a half, just one). If your competitors all carry three lines of cabinets and countertops – and you want to choose to be unique based upon your breadth of product – you should have at least eight cabinet lines, multiple grades of countertops, appliances, hardware and plumbing fixtures. When someone walks into your showroom they should be overwhelmed with the quantity of options before them. They should believe that they should do business with you because you have everything they could want in this single location.
Quality is a basis of competition that many cabinet dealers feel they can compete on. Whether it is competing on the quality of a product or service, most business owners make the same mistake: they don’t talk specifically about how they provide quality.
It is easy to say that a cabinet is high quality. Shoot, everyone says that. What makes you effective at competing based on quality is how uniquely you can talk about quality. It’s not enough to talk about a cabinet as being high quality, you must talk specifically about it and what that means to the prospect. Is the finish richer? Are the shelves thicker? Are the hinges heavier duty? If they are – what does that mean to the consumer?
Speed is an unusual way to compete in the cabinet business but it can be effective for the right prospect. Competing on speed means that your business can take the order for the kitchen and have it delivered and installed faster than any other business in town. Contractors will sometimes pay slight premiums for getting the kitchen installed quickly. If enough prospects will pay a premium for getting their kitchen installed quickly, then speed is a good way to make your business unique.
A guarantee is given by most cabinet dealers but a cabinet dealer who is competing based upon their guarantee most do something that is “over the top” and memorable. The guarantee might be that any customer who is dissatisfied with any part of their kitchen – no matter what the cause – will get a 50% discount. The point of the guarantee is to make the prospect feel as if doing business with the company is irresistible because there is little to lose by choosing the company versus the others.
The Toughest Way to make Money
The final way to compete is based on price. Competing on price is the easiest way to generate sales and the hardest way to make money. Offering the lowest prices attracts prospects but the dealership can’t offer the same quality, service and guarantee at a radically lower price. They must find and create ways to deliver an acceptable level of quality and service at an impressively low price. This generally translates into a no-frills showroom with inexpensive cabinet construction and low service levels. Many prospects will be attracted by the low prices but you must figure out how to deliver consistent profits at these low margins.
There is no one way of competing that is always superior to the others. The point is that if you want to be successful you must choose how you are going to compete and then train everyone to tell prospects specifically how you deliver on your claim.