Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

Top Tiebreakers from Joe Calloway

Here’s the toughest question in business:  “Why you?”

In a marketplace where customers see sameness everywhere, we’re all just a commodity.  A pound a nails.  All you can do is play the price game.  Unless…you’ve got a tiebreaker.  Better still, a bunch of tiebreakers. Whether it’s a new prospect you’re trying to win or a long time customer that you want to keep, you’d better have tiebreakers and you’d better be using them now.

Here is Joe Calloway’s Tiebreakers Hall of Fame List:

Speed Wins.  Become know for a blazing fast response time.  Return calls and emails so fast that it becomes part of what you’re known for.  Being there first is a dramatic demonstration of how much you care and how you work for the customer.

Face to Face.  Don’t FedEx the proposal.  Get on a plane and put it in the prospect’s hands in person.  It knocks people out.

Big Picture Perspective.  Don’t just solve the customer’s immediate problem.  Help him advance his strategy; help her live a better life.

Be Easy.  Be the easiest to do business with.  It’s ranked as the Number 2 factor in B2B buying decisions (Number 1 is Big Picture Perspective).

Ultimate WOW! Factor.  Do it right every time.  Every single time.  Being rock solid dependable and ridiculously consistent is the greatest WOW! Factor in the universe.

Win INSIDE the Box.  Inside the box are your customer’s basic expectations.  If you win inside the box – you win.  We’re talking value,  quality, service, consistency.  Southwest Airlines is fun and they sing silly songs and it’s just precious as can be.  But the reason people fly them is that they’ve got great value and their planes are on time.

Change The Tire. If you had a customer on the side of the road with a flat tire, you’d change the tire for him.  You wouldn’t say “Let me check on what I can do and I’ll get back to you.”  No.  You’d change the tire.  Right then.  On the spot.  So do the same thing if a customer has a problem with you, your product, or your company.  Solve the problem right that second. Change the tire.

Smooch.  You’ve got what you think is a happy, loyal customer.  Here’s a reality check – somebody’s trying to break you up.  You’d better do some smooching fast.  Have a face to face, heart to heart “thank you” session.  Don’t discount the significance of expressing genuine appreciation to your customers (a tear in the corner of your eye would be good).  Get in your car, or on a plane, and go tell them face to face how very much you appreciate their business.  It could prove to be your best insurance against defection to a competitor.

THE ULTIMATE ALL TIME TIEBREAKER: Know more about the customer than your competition knows.  Use that knowledge in the service of that customer.  This is the ultimate tiebreaker.  I want to pound this into your head with a ballpeen hammer.  If I could only have one differentiator this would be it:  “Know more about the customer.”  Tattoo that onto your favorite body part. Read it. Know it.  Live it.

Joe Calloway helps great companies get better and top performers top their last performance.  His new book, the revised edition of Becoming A Category of One, has a whole big, fat chapter on Tiebreakers.  Download that chapter FREE at


  1. Andy R. says:

    Awesome John! Short and sweet but loaded with good stuff.

  2. John R. says:

    I typically do not post responses on blogs but the information shared here left me with a WOW reaction. Simple, but effective. I am convinced these suggestions will work – for everyone, everytime.

  3. Brian Martin says:


    This is a great entry in your blog! We just had a regional sales call and I shared it with about 25 people on the call. 2010 will probably be even tougher than 2009 in terms of sales and retention – this advice is timely and dead on!