Your Ultimate Competitive Advantage

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The biggest secret to success in business is to always maintain a competitive advantage in everything you do. One of the best ways to get and maintain a competitive advantage is to always make it as easier for your prospect or customer to say yes than to say no. The way you do this is by taking away the risk by offering a powerful guarantee. When you remove the risk for anyone who is deciding whether or not to do business with you, it results in a powerful advantage in your business success.

When you take away the risk to your prospect or customer, you lower the barrier of action, thus eliminating one of the primary obstacles to buying. Let them know, that if they are ever dissatisfied for any reason, you will give them their money back, redo the job at no charge, or whatever else it takes to demonstrate your total, passionate commitment to their satisfaction. It's simple, the more risk you assume in every transaction the more likely it is that your prospects and customers will buy what you are selling.

A powerful guarantee can carve out a strong position for your business in the market. It will position your business as a producer of high-quality products or services. When you offer a powerful guarantee it is automatically perceived as a promise to the prospect that they will not be disappointed, and it focuses their attention on your commitment to quality. But, any guarantee must be perceived as powerful, credible, and it must be the centerpiece of your commitment to quality.

Your guarantee should not be designed with the idea that your customer will be compensated if your product or service fails to deliver what you promise. It should be designed to convince your customer that your products or services won't fail. Just getting their money back rarely covers the serious inconvenience the customer has felt by your product or service failure. It doesn't cover the customer's time he or she has spent in buying, consuming, and then complaining about the product or service.

A powerful guarantee means that you will do more than usual for the customer if your product or service does fail to deliver what you promise. As long as your guarantee is backed up by a solid recovery program, it will give your company a good shot at retaining your customer's business even when they've been victimized by a failure. As buyers become more sophisticated and the media becomes more cluttered with advertisements, companies today are more dependent than ever on repeat and word-of-mouth business. The compensation provided to customers by a powerful guarantee can go a long way toward stemming the potential loss of critical business resulting from occasional failures.

Repeat business from unhappy customers is directly dependent on how effectively the customer's compliant is handled. But it's obvious that if an unhappy customer is to be appeased they must first complain. Studies have shown that on average, more than 50 percent of consumers never complain when they have a problem. And, only 9 percent of those dissatisfied customers will ever purchase from the same company in the future.

This is why offering a strong guarantee is so important. It gives you valuable customer feedback. Because studies have also shown that, if a company resolves a problem quickly through a strong guarantee, 82 percent of customers will purchase from the company in the future. This is why you should look at your guarantee not as a possible expense but rather, as an investment in your good reputation.

Don't forget your employees. Offering a strong guarantee will make your employees feel better about working for your business. It will make them feel confident and proud that they work for a company that stands unequivocally behind the products or services it produces, and also protects its customers with a strong guarantee. In addition, it's more enjoyable for employees to interact with happy customers.

Guarantees can be of exceptional benefit for businesses trying to attract first-time buyers. For example, fees for many types of professional service firms can often run into six figures. By offering compensation for a service failure, the guarantee reduces the perceived risk and creates value for clients. In addition the negative consequences of unsolved problems are high. Bad service from a restaurant can ruin someone's evening, bad service from a hospital or law firm can ruin someone's life. The greater the customer's possible expense, time lost, and risk, the greater power your guarantee will have.

Offering a guarantee can guard against the temptation that businesses often have to cut corners on services so that they can maximize income. It can reduces the temptation of sales people to promise something that the business can't deliver on. A guarantee forces companies to have open and honest communication with their customers to make sure that all their customer's needs and expectations are met to your best capabilities.

Guarantees force a company to specifically define its customers' needs and to understand the best way to meet those needs. It also enables a company to measure customer satisfaction by establishing a system for constant customer feedback and communication. And finally, a guarantee will give a sense of urgency to the whole process by forcing your business to focus all its attention and resources to succeeding.

Of all the things a company can say to its prospects and customers an unconditional guarantee of satisfaction is perhaps the most powerful. An unconditional guarantee says, in effect, "We will meet all of your expectations." It makes absolute customer satisfaction a mission statement for how your company will conduct its business.

Guarantees allow you a lot of flexibility. For example, you could offer a thirty, sixty, or ninety-day guarantee. You can even offer a one year or even a lifetime guarantee. The possibilities are limitless. Many businesses have great success by offering a free thirty-day trial of their product and if you're not completely satisfied send it back and they pay the postage.

When you offer a guarantee you should strongly consider offering a bonus in addition to their money-back. For example, if you give free reports, a book, or a CD with your product or service and your customer is dissatisfied for any reason, don't just give the customer a full refund allow him or her to keep the reports, book, or CD as well.

When you offer a guarantee, don't be short or abstract with it. You must be specific. If your product or service is good and performs for your customer, the longer the guarantee and the more specific you make the results they will have, the more people will buy from you.

Your guarantee must be sincere. You must stand behind your guarantee 100 percent and with no loopholes. A phony guarantee or offering one that has loopholes can do more to harm your reputation than anything you can imagine.

When you guarantee your product or service you are telling your prospects and customers that if they do business with you, they will never again make a bad or incorrect purchasing decision. This is a very powerful and persuasive way of making your point. It turns prospects into buying customers. A strong guarantee will cause a prospect to get off the fence and buy from you instead of your competitor.

A strong guarantee can give you a tremendous competitive advantage over your competition. It will also automatically cause your business to start performing and delivering your products and services at higher levels of satisfaction than ever before, so you can live up to your promises.

Whatever your business is, whether you sell products or provide services you can and should offer a guarantee of some kind. By offering a strong guarantee you are not merely limiting the customer's risk, but you are also promising exceptional, uncompromising quality, and customer satisfaction.

There is an unwritten universal law of business that says, "If you don't give your customers what they paid for, you should not get paid." Offering a strong guarantee ensures that you adhere to this law.

Copyright? 2005 by Joe Love and JLM & Associates, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

Joe Love draws on his 25 years of experience helping both individuals and companies build their businesses, increase profits, and achieve total success. A former ad agency executive and marketing consultant, Joe's work in personal development focuses on helping his clients identify hidden marketable assets that create windfall opportunities and profits, as well as sound personal happiness and peace.

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