A sales team’s ability to differentiate their solutions is vital to any successful sales organization. If you can’t describe to your buyers how you’re different and better than the competition, one of two things will happen: You’ll be forced to lower your price to win the business, or you’ll end up losing the opportunity.
Once you articulate the value you provide to your prospects, help them see how your solutions will deliver that value better than your competition. If you can do this, you’ll win the opportunity.
1) Effectively execute the discovery process.
Opportunities are won and lost on effective discovery. You can’t show how you’re different if you don’t know the problem your potential customer is trying to solve. If you want to sell on value, you have to ask questions that prompt prospects to verbalize their pain, in a way that gives you an opportunity to articulate the value of your solution.
Sellers who excel at helping their prospects articulate their needs automatically have better knowledge about them. When prospective customers hear themselves admit their problems and the impact those problems are having on their business, it creates buying momentum and gives you leverage to articulate your differentiation.
Remember, there is no value or differentiation without a customer problem.
2) Focus on the positive business outcomes your prospect is trying to achieve.
Focus on the prospect's end goal -- the positive business outcomes they're trying to achieve. Speak about your differentiators in a way that helps your customer form a link between the differentiation you offer and the value your customer admitted was important.
Keep in mind that people rarely argue with their own conclusion. Your goal is for prospects to persuade themselves that your company is their best option to get them to a place that they can’t get to on their own.
3) Forget about your logos.
Early in the buying cycle, your prospect is evaluating how your solutions map to the problem they’re trying to solve. Your prospect doesn’t care so much about how your company history, or the logos of your biggest customers, differentiate you. These factors may help mitigate risk in the final stages of the buying decision, but they don’t show how your differentiation can help your prospect achieve their positive business outcomes.
Focus on the value you provide, not on the unessential extras.
4) Don’t rely solely on unique differentiators.
If you have unique differentiators and they’re in your prospect's minimum requirements, you’ll win the opportunity. Unfortunately, many sellers can’t rely solely on unique differentiation because today’s unique product feature is tomorrow’s product expectation.
Be audible-ready once your competition catches up. As a seller, be ready to focus your conversations on your comparative differentiation – how your solution is better and/or different than your competition in a way that shows value for your buyer.
5) Leverage your testimonials.
Third-party testimonials can be powerful tools in your sales process. They provide tangible evidence to show that the prospect can achieve the positive business outcomes he/she is looking to see. Don’t make your customer “take your word for it.” Give them third-party references that show your differentiation.
If you can’t connect your value and differentiation to your customer pain points, emphasizing even your strongest product benefits won’t win you the opportunity. In fact, your customers may feel as though they’re paying a premium for features that aren’t important to them. Your products will seem too expensive, and you’ll be forced to lower your price.
The key to effectively demonstrating differentiation is doing it in a way that links your solutions to solving your customer’s problems.
Rachel Clapp Miller is the Assistant Director of Marketing and Communications at Force Management. Force Management specializes in sales transformations that help B2B sales organizations increase revenue, improve sales margins and gain market share. Follow them on Twitter: @ForceMGMT and on LinkedIn.
Originally published Nov 13, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017