You have been told, taught, and trained to differentiate yourself and your offering. You know it’s important, critical even, to selling well. But you don’t have to work in sales for very long to run up against this objection: You are all the same.

When you hear the objection that everyone in your space is the same, the person saying it usually has the experience to make a pretty effective case. There are two reasons why they can make a compelling case.

It’s True

Trying to match your competitor’s offerings isn’t a differentiation strategy.

A differentiation strategy requires that you believe something different than your competitors, that those beliefs drive different choices of actions, and that those actions produce different results—results that make a difference for your clients.

Your dream client has often heard other salespeople who sounded a lot like you and made similar promises–only to produce the same results. Enough of these experiences, and you can’t blame your dream client for finding you guilty before you have been given a fair trial.

This is why business acumen, resourcefulness, and execution are critical for succeeding in sales today. It isn’t enough to sell your products and services. You have to be able to differentiate yourself and your offering by developing a deeper understanding of your client’s needs, by being creative enough to apply your solutions in a way that produces outsized results, and to execute and deliver greater outcomes. Anything less than this and you will be commoditized, whether you want to be or not.

But there is another reason you may not be different enough.

The Truth About Constraints

Your dream client has been lied to. They have been told that none of their problems our of their own making. Now you may be lying to them, too.

Much of the time, we find our dream clients have real business constraints that prevent them from producing the results that they need. There are too many constraints to name here, so let’s focus on a big one: money.

Your dream client needs a better result. Obtaining the result they need would require that they invest more money. Your competitors, in attempt to sell and make their numbers, have all promised that the result that the client needs can be obtained for the same investment—or less—if only they would give them the business.

Over time, your dream client comes to believe that the money being invested isn’t a problem. He has been promised by all of your competitors that the result can be achieved with their current investment.

Are we really all the same?

Thankfully, we are not. It isn’t enough to have a differentiation strategy if it doesn’t mean that you don’t believe something different, take different actions based on those beliefs, and produce noticeably better results.

Much of the time, you can differentiate yourself and your offering by helping your dream clients deal with their constraints by telling them the truth about why they can’t get the result that they want.

But you can’t do this if you are afraid of losing the opportunity.

It takes courage to be a consultative salesperson, shifting the conversation and the evaluation from price to cost. That courage, coupled with your business acumen, resourcefulness, and all of the other attributes that you need to sell well, are what it takes to overcome the objection that you are all the same.

Make sure that when your dream client says that you and your competitors are all the same, that you can answer the call with all of the things that make you different—and make sure you that you are courageous enough to ask your dream client if she will allow you to be different by helping them deal with the constraints that prevent them from producing the results that they need.


In what ways are you different from your competitors, the salespeople who sell for the companies with whom you compete?

What are the different beliefs that you and your company have that drive the different actions that produce different results for your clients?

How does what makes you different make a difference for your clients?

How do you deal with your client’s constraints, the constraints that prevent you from producing the results they need? Do you deal with them in a way that is different from the salespeople who have come before you?

Does it make you different in your space to use a consultative sales approach, shifting the evaluation from price to cost?

Sales 2011
Post by Anthony Iannarino on March 9, 2011
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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