A few years ago, a financial advisor from Manhattan and I were chatting about the challenges she had been facing in her business because of the volatility in the stock market, combined with the economic impact of the tragedies of September 11, 2001.
She refused to let the events that were happening dictate to her the level of professional success she was going to attain.
“When I went through my training to become a broker,” she told me, “just about everything we learned was about the products we would be selling to our clients. Mutual funds, stocks, bonds, annuities, and so forth.”
“I wasn’t having much success getting my career off the ground, so I went to a sales training program”, she said. “There I learned many techniques to close a sale — features and benefits, rapport building, forty ways to secure agreement — stuff like that.”
“Frankly,” she continued, “it didn’t improve my business all that much. Then I realized that anyone could learn those tricks. And everyone has product. What no one else could duplicate was me! Every time I talked to a client or prospect, I was on stage for them. My passion, my commitment, the experiences I could create for clients and prospects — I realized I had a monopoly in the marketplace on me!”
When the stockbroker in Manhattan said those words, a powerful simplicity in her phrases struck me. From computers to cars, from furniture stores to flower shops, from General Electric to a general store, everybody has product. Yet, as she so eloquently implied, it is what you do beyond product that makes all the difference in business.
What a great competitive insight:
What no one else could duplicate was me!
Please do not misunderstand what I am trying to say; having a superior product or unique service is incredibly important and powerful.
Yet no customer is loyal to a product or service.
Customers become loyal to the experience!
The experience is created by the mixture of the product with the service, feelings, benefits, advantages, and emotions that they encounter as a result of their use of the product or service.
Professionals often make mistakes because — just like the Manhattan financial advisor — they do not connect what they have been taught and trained to do with the personalization of the experience that the changing marketplace is now demanding.
What will you start doing to view yourself as a competitive advantage — and deliver a distinctive experience?