3 Ways to Differentiate from the Competition

Posted by Krista Moon on March 11, 2016

Salespeople always think that their product or service is better than the competition, so prospects should naturally choose them, right? Wrong.

When you look at it from the prospects perspective, there usually isn’t much difference between companies. It’s hard to find that one defining factor that stands out above the rest. This became glaringly evident as I recently entered into the sales cycle to purchase a new furnace for my home.

Read more to find out how to identify differentiators and use them with the right prospect at the right time.

3 Ways to Differentiate from the Competition

1. Know Your Competitors

It’s critical to know your competitors just as well as you know your own company. If you talk to prospects about the differences between you and “them” and get it wrong, it 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 some how, 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.

Learn more about how to do a Competitor Analysis Report.

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.

Before you start throwing potential differentiators out there, it’s important to ask a lot of questions to clearly define your prospect’s priorities. 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 is still working (barely!), so delivery time is low on the priority list. If one of the furnace reps tried to hammer 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.

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