Sales people know that they must differentiate. Differentiate their service. Their product. Themselves. From the competition. The competition could be the status quo. A company. An alternative.
But what does it mean and more importantly what does it look like? Let’s first look at the word differentiate. Then we’ll get into how to differentiate and an example of what it looks like.
dif·fer·en·ti·ate – verb
1. recognize or ascertain what makes (someone or something) different.
Differentiate is a verb. In the sales world differentiating yourself, your offering and your company is how you allow your customer to more easily choose to do business with you over the competition.
How do you differentiate?
First, let’s talk about how you don’t differentiate:
- Price is not differentiation. Even if you are selling commodities.
- Appearance. OK, you have cool, flashy logo, big deal.
- Experience. Though this can sound great, does it really make you different? Nope!
- AI, Machine Learning, Streamlining, fast algorithms…
- the list goes on and on…
These don’t differentiate you from anything and more than likely your competition is doing something similar, but maybe a different spin. So, what is differentiation and more important how do I let people know I’m different?
Real differentiation comes from your customers’ experiences with you and your brand. It is why they choose to do business with you. In the Challenger Sale, we are told that Teaching Differentiation is the process of sharing insight about a problem or opportunity that our customer was previously unaware of. When we do this, we don’t want our customer to agree with us, want them to want more. This is where we can Teach them to want what they need. Differentiation leads to loyalty and that is something as great sales people we all strive for.
What’s an example of Differentiation?
In general, differentiation will help a client make money, save money, save time or reduce risk. Like helping a client see an opportunity to use your service to expand into a new market, share insight with a client to reduce time to market for new products or introduce a new training method to reduce workplace injuries. It’s very important that you are not ‘selling’ here. Remember differentiation isn’t about your company, product or service. It’s about the customer.
Why is this Differentiation important if it’s not about me?
Because all the other sales people out there are talking about their product, service, company, experience, expertise and customers are tied of it and can go on the internet to download the brochure. So, they don’t need sales people for that.
It’s important because the differentiation when done right will lead to your product, service or offering through your unique strengths. Without this key element, you are only inviting competition and ugly pricing battles.
Most importantly, you need to understand what does your company do better than anyone else. This is not easy to figure out, but with some practice you will figure it out. Here’s a couple questions to ask yourself as you go on this journey:
- Why did my current clients buy from me?
- Why do my current clients continue to renew with me?
Than for one of these ask yourself, why is that important?, at least 3 times. This is how you can get to what sets you apart from all the options out there.
Good luck and enjoy the journey. I’m sure you will learn a lot.