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The Key to Sales Success: What Makes You Different?

Author: Kendra Lee

Many companies come to us with no sense of what makes them unique. They feel as if they’re exactly the same as their competitors. Their goal is to run more frequent lead generation campaigns, or hire salespeople who will dial faster and shout louder than their competition. All this so they’ll reach prospects first because they don’t believe they have any unique differentiation to win sales on their well-earned merit.

This isn’t a frustration limited to just one industry either.

It’s something nearly all companies grapple with – insurance agents, IT managed service providers, software providers, and even landscapers – don’t know what makes them different. In their minds, they are exactly the same as their competitors.

They want to be unique but aren’t sure if they really are unique.

The truth is, you are different from your competitors, whether you know it or not.

Standing Out

It’s your differentiation that helps you win the sale. It’s not the number of lead generation campaigns you send, videos you make, events you run, or calls you make. Now, don’t get me wrong, those absolutely are important. They may be the activities that get you in the door so you can participate in the sales process.

But lead generation activities alone won’t win business. Rather, it’s your differentiation that causes you to come out on top and win the sale.

If you don’t have noticeable differentiation from your competitors, it’s difficult to accentuate differentiators in your communication. The deciding factor will be price – which you don’t want. Relying on price differentiation is too risky for small businesses, and it’s difficult to maintain.

Think Amazon and Walmart.

They each strive to be the lowest-cost provider and are continually focused on price. Even as they’ve literally become amazons in their industry, they’re still competing primarily on price and distribution.  For smaller businesses, it’s all too easy for your competitors to find a cheaper supplier or lower their overhead.

Suddenly, you’ve lost your differentiation.

Instead, you want to identify what you do well that makes you unique from your competitors. You don’t have to be unique in every market, only in your target markets and in how you meet your prospects’ needs.

For example, you might have a streamlined client onboarding process that allows your new clients to implement your services with minimal impact on their staff. Or, your knowledge of their industry may allow you to extend your core services to support other areas of their business, such as managing all their technology providers from internet to software application provider.

Here’s another example: our top clients have us serve as their Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), directing their lead generation strategy and implementation. What’s our differentiation in the CMO role that our clients are after? It’s that we understand sales and the sales process. Every recommendation we make is from the perspective of how it will support their sales team and overall revenue growth through lead generation and marketing.

What makes a trait a differentiator isn’t just that it’s unique to you.

Why You’re Valued

It’s that your clients value that differentiator because it helps them do business – or run their personal lives – more effectively. Your differentiators help meet a need they want. Buyers are no longer looking solely at a checklist of decision criteria – they’re also looking at how you are a better fit for their company than your competitors.

Once you’ve identified your unique differentiators  (Hint: this quick video gives you tips to do that), you can influence the sales process and your prospects’ evaluation criteria. Whatever the reason prospects invite you into the sales process, you can use your differentiators to help them expand their thinking about what’s really important to them.

Price will no longer be the only determinant as prospects consider your proposal in comparison to your competitors. Your prospects will have other evaluation criteria to consider and a broader choice. And you gave them that opportunity because you knew your differentiators.

If you don’t know what your differentiators are, then it’s difficult to accentuate them in your communication.

Kendra Lee is president of KLA Group, which works with companies to break in and exceed revenue objectives in the Small and Midmarket Business (SMB) segment. Read more blogs from Kendra here.

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