do me a favor…think back to a time when you were planning to buy something. You had a few options to choose from, but you realized they all pretty much looked the same. Sound familiar? What made you eventually select the one you actually bought? We’ll come back to this later…
Say it’s a Saturday morning and you finally found time to go buy yourself that recliner you oh so wanted for so long and the Mrs. actually agreed. You go to one store, are greeted by a nice sales guy, try 3-4 chairs and leave with a few brochures. Another 10 minute drive, another store, another nice sales guy, another 3-4 chairs, another handful of brochures. As you are about to head home, your wife calls and reminds you there is a sale going on at that other store and you should definitely stop there as well.
About 3.5 hours, 27,000 steps and about 18 chairs later, you find yourself back home and all you want to do is, well, sit on that recliner you still don’t own, but for now, you settle on the couch. You put the mound of brochures aside and decide to deal with the decision tomorrow.
Sunday comes, you grab a short workout, take the family to church, take the kids to soccer, baseball, volleyball and it’s 6pm. The pile of brochures and the game that is about to start on TV remind you to finalize the recliner decision. You lay out the brochures and about mmm….20 seconds into it, you are totally confused. The chairs all look the same to you – the prices are roughly the same, the features are the basically the same. You can’t really tell one from the other.
You are trying to remember which of the recliners felt better to sit on, but even that at this point seems indiscernible. And then, you feel drawn to one particular recliner, actually to the business card attached to a few of those brochures. You can’t connect the name with the face, but you remember that when you sat on a recliner in that store, there was a TV remote already in a specially designed pocket. You remember that you and the nice sales guy were cracking up about how it would be nice to have a specially designed pocket for a remote built in to men’s pants. You were both laughing so hard and shared ideas – it was epic!!
You look again at the brochures and realize that it doesn’t really matter which chair but that you are going back to that store tomorrow and getting your recliner from THAT guy.
You remembered the laughter, the emotion you felt when you experienced that laughter, and that was the differentiator. Going through those brochures, you didn’t even remember the sales guy’s name but you remembered…..that guy. That guy whom you laughed with. Intentionally or not, he took you through a memorable emotional experience that made him be “that guy” during your decision making process.
In my world today, we find ourselves competing with other companies through cycles of RFPs, submitted proposals and face to face presentations. The prospect who is evaluating us, at times goes through multiple RFP submissions, proposals and face to face meetings. At the end of that process they all sit together, with piles of documents, lists of decision making boxes to check and mounds of presentations.
Just like with the recliner, they too are having very hard time comparing. After going through that tiring process, we, the bidders in this case, all look the same to them. We all used PowerPoint, we all checked the right boxes, we all used big words and we all offer pretty much the same price.
"I want to be different. If everyone is wearing black, I want to be wearing red." Maria Sharapova
What you should aim for is to be “that guy”. To be “those guys”. To be the differentiator. So when these post-RFP discussions are taking place and the procurement manager (one of the decision makers), while sifting through all the documents, turns to the HR manager (another decision maker) and asks: “remind me, which company presented these slides?” the HR manager will say (while smiling a bit): ”remember?? It’s THOSE guys with the sales lady you compared your kids’ pictures with and realized both your sons where pitchers and both are lefties”. And then the procurement guy, though still not remembering what the selling point on the presentation was, will smile and say….”Oh yeah, those guys…I really liked those guys”.
At that moment, his brain will send him back to that emotional moment he encountered (Emotional Anchor) sharing his kids’ pictures and will take him AGAIN through that emotional sensation of warmth and fuzziness and will relate it to “those guys”.
Now, when decision time comes a few minutes later and all 3 contestants score pretty much the same on their technology, pricing and service, who do you think the decision makers, the procurement guy and the HR manager will tend to select?
You are right – THOSE guys!
It doesn’t really matter what you are selling. What you are offering, a service, a product, a technology or any combination. If you are a technician, a dentist, an accountant, a lawyer, a physical therapist or anything else. Your customers go through constant decision-making process as there are always options other than you and what it is you are offering Constantly, be the differentiator. Impact their decision-making part of the brain and be - THAT guy.
Hmmmmm…..remote control for men…….now that’s a differentiator…