How To Differentiate Your Sales Efforts
As we’ve seen, sales differentiation is more complicated than simply convincing a buyer why a product or service is better than a competitor’s. In their book The Seven Myths of Customer Management: How to be Customer-Driven Without Being Customer-Led, authors John Abram and Paul Hawkes explain order for a sales differentiation strategy to be effective, it must address four key business aspects.
Like any other sales or marketing messaging, the differentiation strategy has to be targeted to a specific audience in order to be effective. Certain buyers will appreciate differentiators for different reasons. Finding the reasons that have the most positive impact on sales performance is crucial to effectively differentiate the product or service to drive sales.
Meaning of differentiation is also important. Remember, most B2B buyers are very savvy, not to mention skeptical. This means that traditional outreach through email or phone might not be enough to get their attention, even if the differentiation of the product’s value propositions are clearly conveyed. This means that the mode of outreach must be a targeted differentiator as well (such as a personalized video pitch automatically created with Videolicious).
Though there are many ways that products and services provide value to buyers, showing the differentiator relationship to profit is an unavoidable necessity to convincing them to buy. A product or service’s differentiator must either save a buyer money, in hard dollars or time and effort, or help them generate more revenue. Without conveying that relationship, a buyer has no monetary reason to purchase.
When conveying differentiating factors, it’s important to clarify if those differentiators relate to the product, the service that supports the product, or a mix of the two. Perhaps your product is similar in execution and price to a competitor’s, but the customer support offered as a service along with that product is the true differentiator. Perhaps the service and the product together are the differentiator, ,even though individually they are similar to what competitors offer. Establishing this distinction help the customer to better understand what is being offered to them, helping them to make a more informed decision.
While successful differentiation strategies have been known to incorporate other elements besides these, by addressing these four points strategically will allow you to hone your company or brand’s message so that it stands out against the competition.
There are three key components to address in any successful sales differentiation strategy:
Your company is the overarching body that defines everything your sales representatives do. The weight and perception of your company’s brand hold strong sway over a customer’s perception of your representatives and only by strongly distinguishing your company first can your sales representatives set themselves and your company apart from the competition.
There are three keys to differentiating your company:
Have a mission
Customers are drawn to companies motivated by more than just money. Having a mission or a goal as the main driver of a company creates a powerful narrative that attracts customers and holds their attention. Clearly defining this mission will help your sales representatives create a compelling message for your company that will set it apart.
Focus on superior customer service
While this isn’t a necessarily unique tactic, it is no less critical to the success of making your company stand out. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” By being known for putting customers above all else, your reps can create an emotional connection with your customers and hold their attention.
With attention spans becoming shorter and shorter, companies cannot afford to rest on their laurels. To stand out from the crowd, companies must constantly be looking for ways to improve their products or processes. This kind of innovation creates a sort of positive feedback loop, as each new successful innovation garners attention from more people and inspiring new innovations. By being recognized as such a thought leader in the industry, customers are more likely to buy from your representatives than representatives from companies that are less bold in their approach.
Ultimately, your product is what customers buy; it’s the thing they get in exchange for the money they give you and it has to be good enough to justify that money. If your product doesn’t offer customers some sort of unique value, then your sales representatives will be seriously limited in their ability to make a persuasive case as to why customers should buy your product versus a competitor’s.
In order to differentiate your product, you must do the following:
Simplify your message
A concise explanation of the value your product provides helps customers to understand what your sales representatives are offering and how it might benefit their business interests. If your sales representatives can’t summarize your product’s value in a simple sentence, then your message is too complicated to effectively differentiate your product from competitors. Refining that message help your sales representatives to present your product’s value in a digestible format that quickly and clearly convinces customers why they should buy from you.
Emphasize your USP
When similar products compete in a crowded market, it can be difficult for customers to identify what really makes those products different (besides price). Good products have at least one distinguishing characteristic that other products don’t. This could be how easy it integrates with other tools, or how intuitive its user interface is to learn. Whatever it is, identifying and communicating the product’s unique selling proposition is critical in order for sales representatives to differentiate your company and your product. Remember from early, this doesn’t have to be something truly unique about your product. Rather, your USP should highlight something your product does better than competing products or something that they don’t do at all.
Narrow your target market
Many companies struggle with trying to mean too much to too many. While logically this might make sense, since in by doing so a company can’t theoretically appeal to more customers, this, in fact, makes any distinguishing characteristics of your product more difficult to recognize. Instead of appealing to a wide swath of customers, targeting your messaging to appeal to a specific niche or demographic allows your sales team to focus their efforts and maximize the effectiveness of their sales strategy for one use case rather than many. By doing this, sales representatives can better communicate the differentiating factors to one audience and drive results.
Your Sales Representatives
Your sales representatives are your first line of offense and last line of defense when it comes to implementing and executing an effective sales differentiation strategy. They are the ones that will spend the most time interfacing with customers and potential buyers, and it is in them that you must trust to differentiate your product and your company from competitors. If they can not successfully break through the noise and retain the attention of those who would buy from you, then no amount of differentiation in your company or product will move the needle.
In order to stand out and distinguish themselves, sales representatives must:
Sell a total solution
Too often, sales representatives are so focused on closing a deal that they forget to take a step back and assess the bigger picture. By understanding the particular needs and pain points of a customer, your sales representatives are better able to make a more compelling case for your product while highlighting the value proposition in a way that perfectly addresses your customer’s business interests. By being able to weave an integrated narrative around why your product is such a good fit for your customer, your sales representatives can better distinguish your product as well as themselves in one motion.
Recognize the importance of relationships.
While sales is largely a numbers game, distinguished sales representatives set themselves apart by fostering relationships with their prospects. By investing their time, thought, and energy into the specific concerns of a customer, the customer is more likely to see their differentiating values and buy from them. Because of this, empowering your sales representatives with the tools necessary to build those relationships (like personalized video with Videolicious) greatly increases the chances of customers buying from your over competitors.
Distinguish their individual sales approach.
Similar to building relationships, sales representatives must distinguish themselves in a way that conveys who they are both as a person and business professional. Allowing a sales representative to communicate the best parts of themselves inspires trust and adds dimension to their selling efforts. This cements the representative as a fully-formed person rather than just another sales person trying to make a commission. Video is a powerful tool in this respect; it is an ideal medium for conveying individuality and value in a way that traditional sales mediums like phone and email simply can’t.
Each of these areas is interrelated when developing a sales differentiation strategy. By highlighting where your sales representatives are strongest and where they most need improvement, you can create your own sales differentiation strategy that will fortify each of these aspects and truly set yourself apart from the noise.
Want to learn how to create your own sales differentiation strategy? Download our free ebook to start differentiating your sales efforts today!
Posted on August 18, 2017