It is important to be different in a way that makes a difference. There are all kinds of differentiation strategies. You can differentiate by having the lowest price as a way to attract customers who only perceive price as value. You can differentiate by having a better product, with features and benefits that are far beyond your competition, differentiating on what makes you unique. There are strategies for explaining why what you sell is different and how your clients benefit from those differences, and they can help you win business.
As beneficial as those differences are, there is one area where it is even more important to be different, and that area is salesmanship.
There is a reason why salespeople who have higher prices and who do not have the very best product or service win business. Most of the time, that reason is that they are better at selling than the salespeople and sales organizations against whom they compete for business.
If you want to tilt the playing field in your direction, the most important differentiation is within your control. You can:
- Improve your willingness and your ability to create new opportunities by spending more time refining your approach to prospecting. The commitment for time is now one of the most difficult commitments to gain, and those who outperform here generally outperform when it comes to their overall results. No deal is closed that is not first opened, and creating opportunities is part of salesmanship. This is a critical differentiation strategy.
- Your business acumen and your situational knowledge is now a defining differentiator when it comes to salesmanship. It is the “advice” half of the two-part recipe that makes one a “trusted advisor,” with “trust” being the other half. If you want to be different, investing here provides exceptional returns. It isn’t all that difficult to develop in this area. You need only to read, study, and interview people who know more than you, take account of what you know, and develop a few themes. It’s easy to create a gap here if you are willing to work while your peer group plays.
- Knowing how to sell is a differentiator, and it produces an enormous difference in your results. If you want clients to see and acknowledge a difference, you need to be able to help them identify the reasons they should change, understand how they should change, what trade-offs they may need to consider, and know what commitments they need to make to further the process of change to pull yourself out of the pack.
There is a reason that some salespeople do tremendously well while selling commodities and other salespeople struggle even when they have an offering that is clearly differentiated and superior to the alternatives. As much as you may want to believe that the product, service, or solution is what needs to be different, the real differentiator is salesmanship.