Salespeople always think their product or service is better than the competition, so prospects should naturally choose them, right? Wrong. Looking at it from the prospect's perspective, there usually isn’t much difference between companies. It’s hard to find that one defining factor that stands out above the rest.
Here are three ideas about identifying differentiators and using them with the right prospect at the right time.
1. Know Your Competitors
It’s critical to know your competitors just as well as you know your own company. Talking to prospects about the differences between you and “them” and getting it wrong severely undermines your credibility. It’s important to remember that prospects will fact-check each differentiator you present. They will ask the next company rep they talk to, “Do you do that?”
For example, during the evaluation for my new furnace, each of the 3 companies we talked to said they had a 100% satisfaction guarantee. One of the reps presented this as a differentiator, saying he didn’t think any other company offered a guarantee like that. But I found out that they all offered one.
Maybe his guarantee was different somehow, but he didn’t elaborate. From my perspective as the buyer, it left me wondering why he thinks no one else is doing it when a guarantee seems to be the industry standard. Industry standards aren’t differentiators, they are expectations.
2. Know Your Prospect
Differentiators vary depending on what’s important to the prospect. As sales reps (I’m one, too), we get so wrapped up in what we’re selling that it’s hard to think from an outsider’s perspective. We forget that we’re talking to people who don’t know what we know. We talk too fast, don’t listen as well as we should, and skip over important information.
Asking questions to clearly define your prospect’s priorities is important before you start throwing out potential differentiators. Ask your prospect straight up, “What is most important to you?” If you don’t, you could be heading down the wrong path with your sales efforts or turn the prospect off completely.
Using the furnace sales process as an example, delivery time might be a differentiator - or it might not. If our furnace was not working at all, a faster delivery time might have swayed us one way or another. However, our furnace was still working (barely!), so delivery time was low on the priority list. If one of the furnace reps tried to hammer the point that they have the best and fastest delivery, it would have gone in one ear and out the other.
3. Put Your Prospect’s Needs Before Your Own
The best way to differentiate: step away from your own desire to make a sale. Just focus on helping your prospect make the best decision for their unique situation.