Jan 8, 2024 • Podcast

How do I sell my differentiators?

Paul helps you stand out from the sea of choices your customers have by highlighting your key differences.

Show Notes

Never discount a differentiator. “It’s better to lose a deal than discount a differentiator.”

When the customer compares your price to your competitor’s, acknowledge the difference in price by pointing to the value they will receive with you.

Don’t bad-mouth the competition. Instead, highlight your strengths that point to your competitor’s weaknesses.

Use the generic similarities between you and the competitor as a springboard to what makes your solution unique.

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How do I sell my differentiators?

(Transcribed from podcast)

On today’s episode, we are going to discuss differentiation: How do I sell my key differences? That is the question we will answer today. This is a challenging topic. As we know, customers have choices, and those choices tend to blend in. They kind of look the same. So we’ll talk a little bit about why that is and how you can highlight your key differences.

Now, before we get into this episode, pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling, we have an entire chapter dedicated to differentiation. And with value added salespeople, it’s not just about selling your differences, it’s also about thinking differently. It’s about approaching sales in a different way with a different mindset. So, Value-Added Selling, again, it’s chock full of ideas on how to differentiate your solution.

So let’s get right into it: How do I sell my key differences? Well, the challenge we face—different options start to blend in. You know, the more benchmarking companies will do the more they compare themselves to other companies, what happens? These companies start to converge. In fact, Michael Porter wrote about this back in 1980 in a book called Competitive Strategy. He called it competitive convergence. Basically, the more companies compare themselves to one another, the more they start to look and sound and feel the same. And here’s what happens. Our customers will look at different options and they’re going to say, “Okay, these two options, they look pretty similar. The salespeople are telling me the same thing. I’m going to simplify this and really make my decision based on price.” You know, that’s the big problem. When there’s solutions that are the same, they blend in, customers will rely on price to make their decision. So, we’re going to talk about how to differentiate. I’m going to give you a few tips and ideas as well.

So first things first. I always tell salespeople, never discount a differentiator. We never want to discount a differentiator. And what that means is if you have a unique aspect of your solution or you have a solution that is completely unique, we don’t want to discount that because we’re basically telling our customer, “Hey, you know what? This difference, this solution is not worth the money.” And by discounting it, what we’re doing is we’re commoditizing our solution. And so our goal is we want to highlight what makes us unique and what makes us different. It’s better to lose a deal than discount a differentiator. That sets a dangerous precedent in the marketplace. So keep that in mind.

Now, just another sidebar tip. When the customer does say, “Hey, your price is higher than this competitor,” or “I could get this cheaper somewhere else,” I would encourage you to acknowledge the difference in the price. Don’t validate what they’re saying and mention, “Hey, it’s, yeah, I know our price is higher.” Instead, acknowledge the difference and say, “I understand there’s a difference in our price. But the reason there’s a difference in our price is because there’s a big difference in what you’re going to get with us,” and then highlight your uniqueness.

Next thing let’s keep it positive. We don’t need to badmouth or bash our competition. Instead, what we encourage salespeople to do is create a positive comparison. And what that means—you want to highlight your value-added extras that are strengths that also call attention to your competitor’s weakness.

One practical example of this—. I was working with a sales team, and this group, they sold in the fastener industry. And I was working with a family-owned regional business, and they’re competing against a large national distributor. And, they said, “One thing we’ve noticed with our competition who we’re going up against—this national distributor—our people have more experience in the industry. And not only that, this company tends to be a revolving door of salespeople.” So, what they would do when highlighting their key differences, they would acknowledge that their staff of salespeople has an average of 10 years experience in the industry, and each salesperson has been in their territory for well over five to six years. And what they’re doing is they’re highlighting the stability and expertise of their salespeople, which naturally, will call attention to that competitive weakness. But again, they’re not badmouthing the competition. They’re not even mentioning the competition’s name. Instead, they’re just highlighting their value-added extras. We can do the same thing.

Another thing we can do, get other people to sell your differences. And one practical way to do this is to get testimonials from your existing customers. Go to your customers and ask them if they’d be willing to put some words on paper—a testimonial. And they may ask you, “Okay, well what do you want me to mention?” Ask them, “What made our solution unique, and what are some of the key differences that have really impacted your business?” And what you’re doing here, tou are prompting them to highlight what makes you unique. Prospects are going to look at this and say, “Okay, well if these other customers are also highlighting differences, it validates what this salesperson is saying as well.” So again, get other people to sell it for you.

I would also acknowledge generic similarities. When you have two different solutions, there are going to be some common factors. I think it helps build credibility when the salesperson says, “Yes, I’ll be the first to admit there are similarities between our solution and the competition, including this, this, and this.” You’re highlighting that, you’re getting it off the table. But then use that as a springboard into what makes your solution different and unique. So, I would acknowledge those generic similarities. It helps build credibility.

And then, one final tip here. I would also create barriers between a direct comparison. And here’s what will happen. Let’s say a customer says, “Well, looking at these two different options, you know, they’re the same.” Well, I would respond to that by saying, “Well, sure. I understand there’s going to be some similarities between two solutions, but this really isn’t a direct comparison. And here’s why. When you look at the total solution, here’s what makes us unique. Here’s why you can’t just say it’s apples to apples.” And so, what you’re doing is you can create barriers. I would create barriers through packaging. Many of our clients, they will package their solutions differently. They’ll bundle in value-added services that are part of it. Or even the literal packaging. You can package products in a unique way to highlight some of those key differences.

You can also create barriers by offering your customers different options. I always believe a three-tiered approach is best—the good-better-best model. And the reason why we do this, customers love choices, but they hate to choose. Barry Schwartz mentioned that in his book, Paradox of Choice, but offering three options, that tiered approach, it gives the customer a little more flexibility. And so, if you’re able to offer three different packages of your solution, that’s another way that you can differentiate your alternative.

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