Channel markets, Sales and marketing, Sales and marketing

Are You Commoditizing Your Customers?

Author: David Brock, president, Partners in Excellence
Author: David Brock

Everyone understands the challenges of selling commoditized products. They are perceived as undifferentiated. In the customers’ and markets’ eyes, there is no difference between these products, regardless the supplier.

To win with commoditized products, we have to find some way to differentiate ourselves. Too often, we differentiate through pricing. Adept sellers broaden the purchase considerations, differentiating on non-product attributes that are important to customers.

But as sellers, none of us want to be “commoditized,” it makes things so much more difficult.

Pause for a moment and consider, “In our marketing and sales efforts, are we commoditizing the customer?”

Generic Marketing Messages

Those “Dear occupant or current resident…” emails, each of us is inundated with, applies “commodity” thinking to our customers. We are treating each one of them the same, using the same approach, papering the world with endless streams of irrelevant messages.

Minimal personalization, saying “Dear Dave,” but sending a message that is irrelevant to my likely concerns is just as bad.  In my case, while I deeply respect companies like Microsoft, Google, General Electric, what they do is very far away from what I care about in running my business.

Or those scripted SDR calls, focused on what they are interested in, not me and my business.  The moment I interrupt, describing what I care about, they struggle to ignore it and get back to their scripts.

Or the standard demos that don’t touch anything that I care about.

Or the incessant product pitches.

Or the “one size/one approach fits all” techniques.

And There’s More...

All these commoditize the customer.  They treat each customer the same, failing to recognize that everyone is different.  Each company has different cultures, strategies, priorities.  Their problems and opportunities vary.  Within those organizations, each decisionmaker is different.  They have differing personal and business wants/goals/needs.

When we de-commoditize our approaches to our customers, both organizations and individuals, we differentiate our marketing and selling.  We set ourselves apart in the minds of our customers, engaging them deeply in conversations about the issues most critical to them–and how we help them achieve their goals and dreams.

Commoditization sucks.  Being perceived as a commodity — either as a seller or buyer is not a path to success.

Think about your marketing and sales strategies.  Are you commoditizing your customers?  Are you letting yourself be commoditized?

David Brock is president of Partners in EXCELLENCE, a management consulting firm focused on sales productivity, channel development, strategic alliances and more.