There are signs that warn you that your prospective client believes you are really a commodity.
When this is true, you have to work very hard to change this perception, make yourself stand out from the pack, and prove that you have a compelling, differentiated, unmatched offering.
Your first call comes from purchasing.
If your first call comes from your prospective client’s purchasing department, you have all the evidence necessary to know that they perceive you as a commodity. If the first call you make is to purchasing, then you believe you are a commodity.
In larger companies, purchasing plays an outsized role in the buying process. In some cases, the purchasing folks are strategic, choosing partners instead of vendors. That being said, they also believe that price is often the dominant factor to be evaluated, and most of what they buy they perceive as commodities.
You receive unsolicited RFPs.
An unsolicited RFP isn’t a real opportunity. It’s almost invariably a waste of your time. Why? Because the lack of discernment on who receives the request for proposal is an indication that the prospective client believes that one name on a list of a sales organization is as good as the next.
If you reply to unsolicited requests for proposal without pushing back and disrupting the process, you are behaving like a commodity. That will only result in your being treated like one.
Your prospective clients tell you they perceive no difference.
When someone tells you that they can’t see the difference between you and your competitors, you have a differentiation problem. You might have a “value creation” problem, too. You undoubtedly have a commoditization problem.
If there is no difference that makes a difference for your dream clients, then they cannot help but believe that you are a commodity. You have to draw bold lines of differentiation, making clear why and how you are different and better, lest you become a commodity.
You are asked to match or beat your competitor’s prices.
Being asked to match your competitor’s price is something people do when they perceive no differences, and when they believe the result they get from you will be the exact same result they will get from your competitors.
Being asked to beat your competitor’s price is the ultimate insult when it comes to the perception of value. Not only does your prospective client perceive no difference, they don’t believe that you can create any value outside of lowering their prices.
How you are perceived is within your control. How you sell can differentiate you. Your commitment to delivering greater results than anyone else can differentiate. Your firm, unshakeable belief in your product and your company and its superiority over all comers.