Why sending a customer to a competitor can be good for sales


If you are yet to hear of Jay Abraham, you’ve been looking in all the wrong places when it comes to learning to push your business to the next level. He is one of the worlds’ most successful business consultants, responsible for helping over 10,000 businesses.

One of his most well-known, and often talked about, strategies is The Pre-eminence Strategy.

What exactly is pre-eminence?


As defined above, by Google, pre-eminence is being superior, of high distinction. Now, every business wants to be superior, don’t they? But how, in a sales role specifically, can we take the steps to being ‘pre-eminent’? And why would anyone send their customer to their competitor?!

–              Customer Service must be valued above anything else.

No matter what, no exceptions. You need to treat every single interaction as though the customer in front of you (or on the phone) at that time, at that place, is the most important person in the whole world.

Don’t ask questions with the intention of just replying with a sales pitch. Ask open questions and genuinely take in what your customer articulates. Don’t just listen to the reply, absorb it, process it, and squeeze all the information you can out of it. Customers need to receive absolutely all your attention. Let them feel how important they are to you. With this approach, you’ll find it easier to understand their problems, even if they aren’t articulating them as well as they could be. The customer needs to be put first, before yourself, and before your own interests.

Primarily, you need to strive to have enormous empathy for your client. Throw your pre-prepared sales pitch away and work with them to achieve the best possible solution for them. To truly be on the path to pre-eminence this needs to be in your mind with everything you do. Your customers should be leaving in a better mood than they came in. Think about it as service before sales. Typically, people thinking of salesmen will picture the old style, sleazy, ‘could sell ice to an Eskimo’ salesperson. Your mission is to provide customer service that blows that image away, great customer service naturally leads to an increase in sales, even if it’s not on that day. It will increase your return business.

–              Understand your products and the problems they solve.

A big part of Jay Abrahams’ pre-eminence strategy, is being an authoritative, consultative figure.  This way, when a customer asks, rather than giving them a list of facts. You can provide them with advice. Give the customer solutions with ‘no strings attached.’ You’re not trying to pressure them into a sale, you’re providing them with tremendous value in the form of knowledge and advice, without asking for anything in return. Traditional sales approaches attempt to push the client into action. Making them take the sale. That creates an uncomfortable, pressured environment. The client or customer immediately feels the pressure and can tell that your needs (closing the sale) are at the top of your priority list, well above theirs. Instantaneously their guard goes up. Why would they want to buy if they felt you didn’t understand their problem? Achieving pre-eminence involves finding a solution to the customers’ problems, even if this means a lost sale. Putting their needs first in your efforts to solve their issue is what sets you apart. In some cases, this could even mean sending them to a competitor which may have what they need if you don’t.


Send a customer to a competitor and potentially lose a sale?! Before you stop reading, let me explain. A pre-eminent approach, as mentioned, is putting the customers’ needs first. The customer will realise you’re genuinely trying to help them and it’ll make such an impression, that they’ll remember, and you’ll be the first place they go in the future.

Still not convinced? Here’s a specific example of how this has worked for me personally:

I worked in a shop in a small town, with only one local competitor. I was one day serving a customer who was after something we didn’t currently have in stock, I tried everything to get it for him, but couldn’t get it in in the time frame he needed. So, I suggested our direct competitors, and even gave him directions. Within 10 minutes he was back. They didn’t have it either, and he asked them if there’s any other types of this store in town (which he already knew; us) to which they told him they were the only ones. He instantly came back, he decided to go with another option, which both stores had in stock. But rather than the easy option of buying it from our competitor, since he was already in their store, he knew they didn’t genuinely want to help, so he went out of his way to return to our store, and spent a few hundred dollars with us.

See how pre-eminence was achieved? Our superior service, and genuinely wanting to help him solve his issue. He bought his other items through us, and now apparently highly recommends us to his friends, which he told me later when he returned to our store again (and many more times after that).

The simple act of sending him away brought him back for repeat business, as well as telling people about the outstanding service he had received.

–              Build Trust and Leadership.

Once you’ve nailed the customer service aspect, and are confident helping customers to solve their problems. This comes naturally. The customers will trust you. They know you’re trying your best to help. You’ve shown that, they don’t need to have their guard up as they would with pushy salespeople, because they’re comfortable with you. Their respect for you will grow quickly, and they will look to you for advice and for leadership. They’ll trust your knowledge, they’ll ask what you recommend, and, provided you stick with keeping their interests at the forefront of your mind, they’ll leave with something (whether it’s a physical product or even knowledge) that will either solve their problem, or at least put them on the right path to solving it. This helps when aiming for pre-eminence immensely. They’ll look to you as a source of advice, a wealth of knowledge. They’ll tell their friends and colleagues how helpful and knowledgeable you were, and people will start to look to you for help in your industry, becoming a market leader. Even if that’s only at a local level.

The Pre-eminence Strategy has a lot of aspects to it, and much more can be written on the subject. But, at a Sales level, these easy to apply principles are the best way to start. As long as you remember; the customer or client must absolutely be put first in everything. It will push you to the next level as a salesperson, help grow regular clientele, and regularly create return business.

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2 thoughts on “Why sending a customer to a competitor can be good for sales

  1. Pingback: 4 easy ways to fight back against online stores – MySalesSpecialist.com

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