The other day I was following a tradesman’s van in traffic and across the back was “Call now for a free quote”. Now, just the day before I had a tradesman out for a quote and it was free and I wondered how often we use these words as points of difference or selling points and really there’s no point to them at all. Why? Because the customers just expect it as your cost of gaining business.

So it made me think and I asked my friends on Facebook, is offering a free quote an enticement anymore and if not, what is? Here’s what they said…

Most people expected a quote to be free, one said they had been charged for a quote, and another said that they are asked if the quotes are free. So there is still some need for businesses to say that the quotes are free, but it’s not enough to get someone in.

So what entices people to ask for a quote?

By and large, the response was that they wanted something more. They either wanted to receive a special price, an extra service, to learn something new. Essentially, they wanted an inducement to get you out to quote for their money.

Let’s face it, in the end it comes down to how badly do you want their money & what are you going to do differently to get it.

But then I wondered, is this just limited to the ‘free quote’ scenario? Are there other points of difference or selling points that aren’t really different?

I had a mini-coaching session the other day and the person said that they offered a ‘quality service’. That was their selling point, quality. I had to stop them there and tell them that as a customer, I expect them to offer a quality service. If I’m paying for a job, I expect it to be done correctly and to be of appropriate quality.

So ‘quality service’ is off the list! What other selling points are used that really aren’t points of difference?

  • Polite
  • Friendly
  • Honest
  • Reliable
  • Superior
  • Trustworthy

These are all basic (and commonly used) levels of service we expect as clients. So what are the options businesses have to stand out from the crowd and to be chosen from the pack?

It has to be said, but it depends. It depends on your industry and what is normal and what is expected.

Businesses wanting to beat their competitors need to know three things:

  • What is standard service in their industry
  • What their ideal client expects from their industry
  • What their ideal client expects but doesn’t receive from their industry

You may think that I am asking you to gaze into a crystal ball or pluck things out of the air. You can find out the answer to the first point either in explicit industry standards or just check out the websites/social media/advertising of your competitors, you’ll soon see the same words cropping up. You should already have the answer to the last two in your clients’ feedback/reviews/testimonials. If you don’t have any, then check out what is written about your competitors, you’ll see what customers did/n’t like there. Still stuck, ask your customers; put up a post on social media, send them an email, ask the next 10 you speak to or see, ask your friends (just as I did).

If you need a little extra to get you started, I’ve developed this cheatsheet to help you organise your answers .

So now what to do with these new points of difference or selling points?

Quite simply, you use them. You add the one the clients desire most to the ‘free quote’ line. You use it in your social media and other marketing. You add it to your email signature block. You start saying it when you speak to clients. It may feel odd at first, but everything does. I promise that after 21 days (how long it takes to change a habit), it will be normal. Put it on post-it notes so you remember. Make it a screensaver on your phone. Have it as a calendar notification to remind you. Prompt yourself to remember to use it.

Why should you change your point of difference or selling point?

Other than the fact that it should be different, this comes down to aligning your business aims and values to those of your ideal client. When your client feels heard or understood, they start to feel welcome and develop trust in your business (then like & know). You will be talking to their critical needs and its them you need to impress first so that you can show them that you are better than your competitors in meeting their needs.

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