Sales: The Game of Reference Points

by | 2 minute read

When you go to make a deci­sion about some­thing, what’s your gen­er­al thought process? A lot of the time, we come up with a few options and com­pare them to see which one we’d rather choose at that time. Your poten­tial clients’ deci­sion mak­ing process­es are like­ly the same when decid­ing whether or not they’d like to do busi­ness with you, accord­ing to Col­in Shaw’s arti­cle, “How We Make Deci­sions – Prospect The­o­ry.”

So, how do you become your client’s sales­per­son of choice? First, you need to fig­ure out what their exist­ing points of ref­er­ence are. Who is your com­pe­ti­tion? Who has the client worked with before? Even if you can’t find that infor­ma­tion on your own, ask your client about their past expe­ri­ences with sim­i­lar prod­ucts or ser­vices. Once you know your client’s ref­er­ence points, it will be eas­i­er for you to dif­fer­en­ti­ate your­self.

Keep it classy when estab­lish­ing your­self as dif­fer­ent than the com­pe­ti­tion. Insult­ing your com­pe­ti­tion out­right will only suc­ceed in mak­ing you seem imma­ture. State the facts of what you can offer com­pared to the client’s past expe­ri­ences and let them come to the con­clu­sion that you’re the bet­ter option on their own.

Remem­ber, whether or not your meet­ing with a client ends up being fruit­ful, you’re also cre­at­ing a new point of ref­er­ence by inter­act­ing with them. How are you set­ting the bar for the sales­peo­ple who will attempt to get their busi­ness after you? Are you estab­lish­ing your­self as a pleas­ant per­son who they would reach out to if their cur­rent part­ner doesn’t work out? Being not only knowl­edge­able about your prod­ucts and ser­vices, but friend­ly, empa­thet­ic, and laid back as well will rein­force your ref­er­ence point as a pos­i­tive one.

Sales is a game of com­par­i­son. Every­thing you do in a meet­ing cre­ates a new point of ref­er­ence for a client and every­thing oth­er sales­peo­ple do is some­thing for you to pitch off of. So, do your research and ask ques­tions to know how to set your­self apart and make sure you put your best foot for­ward so that you’ll be a dif­fi­cult ref­er­ence point to over­shad­ow.

Rachel Cagle

Rachel Cagle

Rachel is a Research Ana­lyst, spe­cial­iz­ing in audi­ence intel­li­gence, at Sales­Fu­el. She also helps to main­tain the major accounts and co-op intel­li­gence data­bas­es. As the hold­er of a Bach­e­lors degree in Eng­lish from The Ohio State Uni­ver­si­ty, Rachel helps the rest of the Sales­Fu­el team with their writ­ing needs.