Growth in any economy is possible by understanding how you rank your marketplace and then taking steps to shift more customers towards you, that is sales growth.

In my prior leadership roles at McDonald’s and Burger King, I often visited restaurants to see how they were performing and provide guidance and coaching to help them improve. If a location was underperforming, I had to help the store management get back on track.

When sales numbers were down, I’d first ask the team why. The answers were often he same:

  • The weather
  • The economy
  • Road construction

These answers were convenient in that it was completely out of the manager’s control. In many ways, they may have felt that since they were suffering due to outside factors, that they didn’t have the responsibility to do better.

There’s always a way to grow the business

The problem with this “it’s out of my hands” thinking is that it assumes a different kind of buying decision than what often takes place.

Doing business with you isn’t usually a “yes or no.” It’s more often a “either/or.” They’re usually not deciding not to buy if they don’t do business with you – they’re buying from a competitor, or they’re buying something else that meets their need.

So, if you’re the “either,” you need to know who or what the “or” is. If you can identify the “or,” you’ve identified a new pool of potential customers – theirs.

Winning your competitors’ customers is about tipping the scale

So, in our example, our customer saw Happy’s Hamburgers and Sally’s Sandwiches as roughly equivalent choices, and ease of access tipped the scale towards Sally’s.

But what if our customer just had to have a Super Happyburger with Cheese? Would that have been enough to make her brave the road construction?   Maybe.

Or it might have been their customer loyalty card, or the coupon in her wallet, or the fact that Happy’s offers free Wi-Fi.

In order to tip the scales in your favor, you have to identify all of the decision factors that push your customers towards you, or towards your competitors. Then, you have to look for ways to win in each and every category.

  • What do they offer?
  • What do they charge?
  • How is their sales process?
  • What about customer service?
  • Do they offer discounts?
  • Do they provide dedicated reps?
  • Online ordering?
  • Free gift with purchase?
  • What does their marketing look like?
  • Is their message more clear than yours?
  • Do they have a website?  E-newsletter?  Colorful brochure?

Once you understand all the differentiators, you can start to see where you need to improve to tip the scales in your favor and win over the customers that your competitors are losing.

If you can do that, you’ll never need to look far for new business.

Dave Baney is the founder and CEO of 55 Questions, LLC.  We work with successful top executives with a driving ambition to crush their competition.  We help CEOs and Entrepreneurs improve alignment, communication and accountability throughout their organization. www.55Questions.com

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