It’s a timeless question in the sales world; “How do I differentiate in the eyes of the buyer?” It’s tempting to highlight price differences or feature deficiencies of your competitors. However, experienced sellers know that such “low-hanging fruit” will never cause the buyer to respond differently.
According to research by the Chally Group, 39% of B2B buyers select a vendor based on the skills of the salesperson, rather than price, quality or features. This may be a surprising statistic for the many sellers who report price or features as the largest differentiator in lost deals. Here’s an idea: Perhaps the buyer doesn’t want to admit to the seller that they provided a subpar experience?
Absolute differentiation is when buyers see you as unique from other sellers, instead of seeing your product as unique from other products. This is accomplished through careful preparation and interaction with Decision Makers. Skilled sellers who become a true differentiator typically outperform their competitors during two key moments in the sales process.
Getting in the door
Becoming a differentiator starts with the first interaction; you won’t have a chance if you don’t stand out from other sellers during initial outreach. This applies to both warm and cold leads. In the first exchange with prospects, whether through email or over the phone, far too many sellers follow the same erroneous steps:
- They attempt to give a 30 second or one-minute pitch.
- They take on a nervous, almost embarrassed tone of voice.
- They talk only about themselves and tell the prospect why he or she should care.
- Only a small few of them are capable of answering when the prospect inevitably asks, “Do you even know what my company does?”
The best hope for differentiation early on in the buyer/seller relationship is to be credible, confident, and understanding of the prospect. Poise and conviction in tone of voice alone can go a long way, but it must be accompanied with knowledge of the target audience and solid reasoning behind why it’s a good time to talk.
Positioning your offering against others
Every company is capable of providing unique benefits to their buyers. If your product or offering doesn’t have any unique capabilities or attractive features that competitors don’t-- you likely wouldn’t still be in business. Naturally, highlighting these points would seem like the best way to establish clear differentiation.
The question is: do you have proof that your buyer cares about these advantages? It may seem clear to YOU that there’s an opportunity to save time, save money or make life easier with your product. In your eyes, it may seem like a no-brainer.
However, in many cases there’s important context lacking. Your value as a sales person is not to tell the buyer that you have a superior offering and list the reasons why. The modern buyer has enough ability to do that on their own. Skilled sellers provide a much better experience (and quickly differentiate themselves) when they help buyers gain clarity on what they are trying to achieve and what will help them get there.
Differentiate yourself to the decision maker.
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Selling to the C-Suite