Archives for August 2013

Your #1 Sales Tool: Knowing Your Areas of Differentiation


If you are tired of being outperformed by a less than qualified competitor, or losing margins by competing on price then you will find the next few paragraphs and the video to be helpful.

You have experienced situations where you are in the market for a certain item, and feel that the sales rep is trying to sell you unseen swampland in Florida.

Your heart goes out to this person because they are doing the best they can, and taking a broad approach hoping that one thing will pique your interest.

The ultimate question that you want answered, and perhaps the question your customer is asking you is ‘why should I buy from you’?

You can overcome this by giving your prospect a valid business reason to buy. This is done by identifying your areas of differentiation. Once you lock this in place, then you remove price as the default otherwise your buyer is creating your differentiator for you.

Our customer base at Directional Achievement is supported by a variety of industries. These include chemical manufacturers, workers compensation, industrial fastener distributors, and food service companies.

As a chemical manufacturer calling on a retail grocery chain you may be asked the question: What is so special about your service model? As an ancillary services provider in workers compensation you are being asked: How can you reduce our administrative burden? As an industrial fastener distributor you are being asked: How can you meet our short and often fluctuating lead times?

In a world of perceived parity, these are all important questions that must be addressed on the front end; otherwise you are selling unseen swampland in Florida where price becomes the only differentiator. You have a solution to increase your sales revenue.

Your #1 Sales Tool is Knowing Your Areas of Differentiation

If you have identified your areas of differentiation then congratulations, you are in the top ten percent of businesses.

If you are willing to take the next step you may be asking ‘how’ do we do this, and ‘what’ is the best process?

Step 1

  1. Ask for input from your sales team, customer service and other leaders within your organization, their insight and experience will be incredible.
  2. Create a long list of possible differentiators. More is better.
  3. Reduce and refine until you have a minimum of seven, although you may only use one at a time depending upon your prospect buying criteria and objectives.

Step 2

As you work through the process in identifying certain characteristics of your differentiators there are five factors that must be considered in your refining process.

  1. They must be objective. Anything subjective is only an opinion. For example the way you define trust or stability may often be different from the definition of your prospect.
  2. Are they unique to your industry? Avoid the “me- too” trap.
  3. Are they proven?
  4. Can they be quantified?
  5. Can they be expanded or further developed?

Step 3

Once you pull these together it is time to field test with your customers. Listen to what they have to say and adjust accordingly. Pull your final polished revision together. Now your #1 Sales Tool is ready.

Step 4

Implement your new areas of differentiation and weave them into the culture of your sales team and organization.

Step 5

Go take market share from your competitor that is still trying to sell unseen swampland in Florida.

Now you are in a position to get your prospects attention and land that first meeting by successfully answering these simple but challenging questions: ‘What makes you different’ and ‘Why should I buy from you’?


The fact is unseen swampland was sold successfully in Florida for many years. The success went to those sales reps that had seen the land and knew their areas of differentiation and articulated them well.

If you would like to discuss this in more detailed but are ‘too swamped’ in your day to day responsibilities, please contact me here.

I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

Own your success!


Define Your Tie Breaker and Reenergize Profitable Sales Growth

If you have taken the time to discover what your customers and prospects truly value as differentiators you are well ahead of your competitors.

But why stop there? Why not take the extra step. The extra step is to discover what factors mostly influence your customers buying decisions, more specifically which of your differentiators are relevant to them. Without these you don’t have a ‘tie-breaker’ and commoditize yourself where price is the only perceived area of differentiation.

A live example

Let me provide for a realistic example that happened today. One of my customers is the largest distributor and importer of stainless steel fasteners. In fact they provide fasteners to 85% of the boating manufacturer’s in the U.S.

Needless to say they sell a commodity in the highest order. But they have taken the time to differentiate themselves. Rather than letting price dictate, we have worked together to meet with their key customers to find out what their requirements and expectations are. From there they established their areas of differentiation and value proposition. Rather than price dictating the decision, they sell on the following:

  • Quick and accurate response (in this case they are providing quotes).
  • Accurate fill and on time deliveries.
  • Knowledge-both industry and product.
  • Financial stability of their company
  • Deep inventory levels (no back orders)

Now that these relevant points are established they have defined their tie-breaker. Price has been removed as their customers and prospects safety net in the negotiating phase. Again, without knowing what your tie-breaker is a lower price is the natural recourse that a customer or prospect will always resort to.

How you can benefit from knowing your tie-breaker

  1. Equip your sales team to hold price levels or perhaps raise them slightly.
  2. A renewed sense of confidence that your service/product is worth more.
  3. A stronger sense of confidence in asking for a price increase with certain customers.
  4. Increased earnings.

Price outweighs value every time, unless you know what your customers and prospects value and how to sell that value.

I would encourage you to give this some serious thought. Set up a simple survey with your key customers and ask what they value and why. Ask them to rank the importance of receiving what you offer into a priority list, I think you will be surprised that to learn that price is seldom in the top five.

Many companies are walking away from additional profits simply because their differentiators and value proposition are not relevant to their customers and prospects; make the choice not to be one of them.

Own your success,