Buying Experience is a Differentiator When Products and Services are Similar


 Enterprise Rent-A-Car

How do you win the customer’s business when you have a number of competitors with products that solve the same problem as yours? A number of businesses quickly jump to lower prices, however we learned in my post: WARNING: Buyer’s say what salespeople do wrong? PRICE is not on the list!.. That price is not even on the buyers list of why they do not buy from you. So how can you differentiate your product or service in a sea of other possible competitors who can solve the same problem for your customers?

Make the buying experience your differentiator and you will win business.


When is the last time you rented a car? I travel quite a bit and I often rent cars when I arrive. This experience is typically a cold and “a matter of fact” experience. You get on the bus, drive to some parking lot, go into a building, wait in line, then the person behind the counter tries to ;

  • upgrade your car
  • rent you a navigation device
  • sell you insurance
  • sell you a gas option


It’s kind of frustrating as I am tired, I just flew 4 hours, it’s often late at night, ( always seems to be raining) and all I want is my “Fricken” car! Instead I have to run the sales gauntlet and it honestly the experience irritates me.

Enterprise Rental Car surprised me this week in Denver. I arrived and jumped on the bus and I was greeted by Tony who helped me with my bags and said…”Hi, thank you for choosing Enterprise and I will be your driver today.” This was a nice surprise versus trying to jump on the bus before the doors close. As we pulled away from the airport Tony went on to say “ we will have a short 8 minute drive to your car” hummm, it’s like he was reading my mind…I was just wondering ; how long will it take to get to the car, do I have enough time? We hear him on his radio informing the rest of his team he has 3 guests and he was 1 minute out. Again, interesting…maybe they will actually have enough people on staff so I do not have to wait in a long line as Dollar and Thrifty have made me do in other cities recently ?

When we arrive there are about six people waiting with clipboards. I meet Jody; “ Hi I am Jody and I will be helping you with your car and get you on your way, come on inside and we will do your paperwork…oh would you like some coffee or water?”  Again, another interruption from the norm…this is pretty cool. So I hand her my driver’s license and credit card and wait to be pitched….nothing. She says “OK Mark please sign this form and I will meet you outside and show you your car.”  A bit nervous as this is not what typically happens I stop her….”wait a minute, what about the gas options, insurance, and so on?” She smiles and said “we will discuss that outside let’s get you on your way” (so she gets it I want to move through this quickly? No way!)

She walks me outside and shows me cars and said these are your choices if you want those other cars over there it would be an upgrade, but that is up to you. I decline, but that was a much nicer way of presenting upgrades. She gets in my car, starts it, then walks around and inspects it for me. Every other rental company makes me do this on my own, if I remember… She shares the insurance options, I decline, she explains what will happen if I have a accident, but in an informative way, I was not feeling like I was being sold.

Jody then asks if she can help me with directions, restaurants, radio stations… (You kidding me? Am I on candid camera or something? ) I said no thanks, and before I jumped in I had to ask;

So Jody, what’s the deal? I mean I rent cars all over the US every week and no one has treated me this good…do you have a guy from corporate here today…are you guys going through training today?…. She said no, this is how we choose to do business here. We are one of the most profitable Enterprise locations and our supervisor trained us to treat people like they were only customer. She went on to say they are buying two competitors who will soon be under the Enterprise umbrella as well.

Jody shook my hand, and then gave me the office phone number and an emergency number…and away I went.

This overall experience was quicker than what I have experienced with Hertz, Dollar, Thrifty, Alamo, and significantly better. I promise you I will use Enterprise in Denver again, and try Enterprise on my travels next week in other cities… I hope this is a chain wide program.

When your competitors have products and services that solve your buyers’ problems, you can use the “buying experience” to differentiate your business and win future business.

How about you? Have you experienced amazing service that has made you want to use that business again?




Have you experienced service that made you never want to use that business again?



Hey Dollar, Alamo, Hertz, Thrifty executives…get out from behind your desks and rent a car from Enterprise in Denver and see what kind of experience your buyers really want!


( how many of your recent customers remember the names of the rental bus driver and the person who checked them in?)

How about your customers?…what kind of experience are they receiving?


Entrepreneur best practice #3; If Sales are Scary, You Can NOT Afford to NOT get Creative..

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Market leaders act different. They understand it’s about more than taking your customer’s money. They go out of their way to teach their clients about their products and they show their clients creative new ways to use their products or services .


Market leaders focus on the buying experience.



The net result is they deepen the bond, the trust, with their clients and their sales increase.


I needed some chlorine tablets for my pool floater so I went to Paddock Pools. I have tried a number of pool supply stores over the last eight years, but I always come back to Paddock. I could buy my tablets at Home Depot, or even Big Lots if I time running out correctly, but I prefer to pay a little more and buy my chemicals from someone who knows pools.


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As I entered the store I could not help but notice a mini Haunted house to my right. I thought how cool…just like they create amazing Christmas tree displays to offset their down season sales, they also have Halloween decorations.

How smart…they created a merchandising customer experience.

As I checked out with my new bucket of chorine tablets I was asked …” Did you go inside?” I admitted the young boy still inside me wanted to, and she encouraged me to go inside and check it out. So I ducked my head and went through the cray paper streamers and went inside.


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Inside there where all kinds of products merchandised to illustrate how to use them, even a spooky fireplace in the back of the room. Everything in this mini Haunted house were product’s the store sells and they showed how to use them with a little creativity.

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I just had to ask the cashier how long this took to build and the cost. She said with a smile…” well we argues about how to do it for an hour, …we planned it for another, then it took two hours do when the store was slow.” I asked; “was it expensive?” …she said “no, not really.. I think we spent about $75”, (and my gut said they spent their own money and did not expense it.) I asked if I could take pictures of their handiwork and their faces just lit up with smiles.

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When business is tough you must be creative. As I discussed in my post about leveraging what you have, you must assess what you have instead of doing what most struggling entrepreneurs do and that is make a list of what they need to be successful…”if we only had….we could hit our revenue numbers”.

This store, this organization, did a number of things right…


They leveraged what they had.


They stuck to their “flight plan


Created an experience and not just a floor display


They “showed” their clients how to use their products


They “taught”their clients


They empowered their associates to be a part of the solution


They recommended I check it out


Once inside they had a create Halloween Christmas tree, reinforcing their other seasonal products


If I had young children, I promise you this display would spread in their network of friends and parents would be visiting this store, or junior would make their lives miserable until they did.


Market leaders act differently.


They understand it’s about more than taking your customer’s money. They go out of their way to teach and show ( versus tell and sell) their clients creative new ways to use their products or services and they focus on the buying experience. The net result is they deepen the bond, the trust, with their clients and their sales increase.



How about your business….

What can you do today that is creative, but is not expensive?

How can you create a customer experience instead?



When sales are scary you must leverage what you have and get creative to; “create sales velocity”.



I plan to circle back with this Paddock store and hopefully their manager will share with me the sales this year compared to last year as a % as my guess is their seasonal Halloween merchandise sales will see an increase AND their other products will as well.


Great Job to those at Paddock Pools who built this display in the store on Shea near the 101 freeway,… if you live nearby , bring the kids and check it out!