Electrical Testing
Being Assertive in the Marketplace

Being Assertive in the Marketplace

Emphasize and promote the expertise that differentiates your business from the competition.

We all hate them: the aggressive telemarketers pitching us things that are overpriced or that we don’t want at any price. We say we’re not interested, and they say they understand and keep right on pitching until we hang up.

That aggressiveness does eventually work when the caller gets a sheep to bully around into pulling the trigger. But your business is a reputable onel, and you would rather die than engage in such tactics. Besides, your work is so good; why should you have to?

Photo credit: Minerva Studio/iStock/Thinkstock

This is good thinking on your part, but don’t let it stop you from being assertive in the marketplace. That’s quite different from being aggressive. The crux of it is that, instead of waiting for work to come to you, you go out and get it. This enables you to get the work you want, instead of settling for whatever comes along. But how do you make this happen?

First, think of how you are positioning your company. What differentiates your company from the competition? And how do you get that message across to your market?

Let’s assume yours is a business-to-business play.

If yours is just another electrical services firm, it’s not the “go to” firm for a plant with, for example, a big switchgear project. The typical plant electrical engineer isn’t a switchgear expert and (to avoid failure) is going to seek out a firm with that expertise.

If you present your firm to businesses as a “full service” firm, how much confidence do you think that inspires in business customers who have a specific need rather than a “full service” need?

Unless your firm is going after a contract wherein it provides the full array of services to meet a plant’s normal needs, don’t position yourself as “full service.” The “full service” approach works great for the consumer market, which generally doesn’t have specialized needs. Consumers usually just want an electrical service firm and don’t know one specialty from another. But for the business market, it will likely commoditize you.

For the business market, position yourself as an expert in something. Not only do you stand out from “full service” firms, but you also can nearly always charge significantly higher rates. You can always “upsell” additional services once you’re hired for the main event or as you establish steady clientele.

What expertise does your firm have? Once you can answer that question, then look at how you are supporting that expertise. For example, a firm that says it has expertise in electrical troubleshooting won’t just have a low-end thermographic camera used by an untrained person. It will have at least one certified (Level II or better) thermographer and at least one high-end camera.

Some of the areas you should examine to see if you’re properly supporting your expertise:

• Significant and ongoing training in your expertise area.

• A full array of test equipment to perform all the relevant testing that might be needed (if you don’t own some of the more exotic test equipment, have a good leasing arrangement in place).

• Involvement in industry associations relevant to your expertise area.

• Any specialized tools that will make your work more accurate, effective, or efficient.

So you have your expertise and you’ve put resources into supporting it. How do you get your message out? Some ways that work for a “local” shop:

• Get involved in local chapters of industry associations involved with electrical work. The relationships you establish will put your firm “front of mind.”

• Advertise. There is almost certainly business-to-business advertising in your area. It’s worth the investment.

• Travel. This sounds counterintuitive for local purposes, but it works. Travel to industry conferences relevant to your area of expertise. For example, you want data center work, so travel to a battery conference.  You’ll come back from these conferences with fresh ideas that can help you stand out locally. You may even make some contacts who can get you in front of local clients.

• Mail. Compile a list of local firms yours hasn’t worked for. Call to find out the name of the facility manager. Compose a half-page letter explaining what you do. Below your signature, add a p.s. “Call me and let’s have lunch. My treat.”

• Talk and meet. You don’t have to be like those obnoxious, aggressive telemarketers. A low-pressure approach works very well. Consider calling after hours and just leaving a message.

Many people do not know how to leave a phone message that gets a response. Look at the message below.

“This is Fred at ACME Electric, 555-555-1234. We are running a special on thermographic inspections this month. Please call me at 555-555-1234 if you want to know more about this money-saving offer. Again, Fred at ACME Electric, 555-555-1234. The best time would be 2 p.m. tomorrow. I hope to hear from you then. Thanks!”

Points:

• Always identify yourself at the start.

• State your phone number right after that. Provide it in the middle and again at the end.

• Provide an offer (running a sale) and a call to action (please call me).

• Give them a specific time. Yes, it is possible they won’t have that time free. But the specificity improves the chances of a response, and you did say the “best” time not the “only” time. Allow at least one hour between specific times to prevent caller frustration.

• State what you want (I hope to hear from you).

• Conclude with the magic word every marketer, sales person, business owner, and project manager can never use too many times: thanks.

When speaking in person or when leaving a message, always inject some energy into your voice. People are naturally attracted to that energy. But always speak a little more slowly than normal; a slower speed is friendlier and easier to understand.

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