Making sales really comes down to making the customer choose your solution over your competitors’. Not only do you have to convince the customer that your company and products are different, you have to convince them that the difference is worth paying for. When asking our clients what makes people choose them over their competitors we get a lot of the usual responses:
- “We’ve been in this business for years. We have experience that people appreciate.”
- “We have the best customer service. We are far more responsive to our customers than anybody else.”
- “We have really high quality products,” or “Our product is new and innovative.”
- “Our sales people are great to work with, our customers love that relationship.”
Does any of that sound familiar? In most cases your competitor is saying almost the exact same thing. We have yet to hear anybody say “Our customer service is just okay.” And in many cases you can’t prove your claims unless they have bought from you already. So how does the customer really choose? If they are presented with companies that all boast the same advantages the customer will almost always go with the lowest cost option. Only one company can be the cheapest. If you get sucked into playing that game you will find yourself losing sales and/or profits. Either way that means less money coming in.
So how do you differentiate yourself without lowering the price? You have to be different, and it must be in a way that the customer values. Then you have to be able to communicate that difference to them effectively. Here is an exercise you can do with your team to make sure they understand what makes you different and how they can convince the customer that your difference is worth it.
- List all of the things that you believe make you different or give you a competitive advantage.
- Make a second list of all the advantages your competitors claim.
- Cross off anything that is found on both lists. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes when doing this. If you both claim superior customer service, it doesn’t matter if you think yours is truly better. The prospect can’t tell the difference. If you have been in business for 25 years and your competitor for 20, cross it off. Those extra five years probably don’t matter in the prospect’s mind.
- Anything that didn’t get crossed off are the elements that truly set you apart from the competition. Now you have to see if these differences are actual selling points. Take whatever remains and run them through these series of questions.
- Is it really unique? Does any other company offer it or something similar to it? If they do, what makes yours different or better then theirs?
- Is it easier to use than your competitors’ solution? Do you have specialized people that can support this product or service? Does it save them more money or time? Does it make them more money in some way?
- Does it have any claim to fame? Was it voted best by an authoritative source that your customer trusts?
- Is it something people are willing to pay more for? Just because it is different does not mean the customer will pay more for it.
If you can answer yes to all or most of those questions then you’ve found a unique selling point. Not only does it truly set you apart from the competition it does so in a way that the customer actually cares about.
Running through this exercise with your sales team helps them come to these conclusions themselves rather than just being told. This way they’ll have a deeper understanding of what customers want and what your company can offer them, which allows them to ask more focused questions that highlight your advantages. This approach can mean closing the deal without having to be the lowest price out there.
Now that you and your sales team understand what makes you different, you have to find the people that care and develop your line of questioning that shows them why your differentiators should be important to them.