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Average Is Over

by David Brock on January 25th, 2012

I read a fascinating Op Ed piece by Tom Friedman in the New York Times, Average Is Over.  It’s a fascinating piece.  As I reflected on the piece it struck me how important this concept is to professional selling.

Friedman makes the point, “”…everyone needs to find their extra–their unique value contribution that makes them stand out…”   Friedman is not writing about organizations, he’s writing about individuals, each  of us.   It’s a profound concept, understanding it is like discovering the secret decoder ring for sales success.

In a buyer’s world, where too many products are undifferentiated, where the differences between the companies that stand behind the products are relatively small, where quality is similar, where everything balances out–and on average they are the same, there are two things that stand out as real differentiators:  price and what each of us contributes as sales professionals.  And in competitive situations, where pricing is roughly the same, the difference between winning and losing is each of us.

It’s no longer sufficient to be “average.”  Each of us has to find a way to stand out and differentiate what we do.  It might be our knowledge of what the customer is trying to do, it might be the confidence we instill about the new solution, it might  be the trust we have earned in working with them.

Just good enough is no longer a winning strategy (a number of years ago, I worked with an industry leading company that had that as their strategy–and they were remarkably successful.  We have to set ourselves apart, we have to create the value and differentiate ourselves.  As Friedman points out, it is ultimately what each of us contributes that makes a real difference.

It’s a tremendously powerful concept for sales people, partly because it’s a simple concept, partly because it puts success or failure squarely in our hands.  We can control and manage the difference we make with our customers.  We can control and manage the value we create to set ourselves apart.  Competing and winning becomes much more clear–we are in control because it is the differentiation that each of us create that separate us from the average.  It can actually be quite easy–particularly if everyone else is striving to be average.  In essence, we become the value proposition–or we can be one of the crowd, average.

Sales people–and the people they engage in working with a customer are the ultimate differentiators.  How we and our team work with the customer is what separates us from the rest–the average.

Do you know what separates you and distinguishes you from everyone else?  Are you demonstrating that in every interaction with your customers?

Do you know what distinctive value you create–for your customers, for the people you work with?  Do they understand that value?

Are you constantly looking to  set yourself apart?

Average is over.  Average is not a winning sales strategy.

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4 Comments
  1. David Olson permalink

    Hi Dave

    This is so true and, as you impy, it is a relatively small effort to be better than aveage. Yet the rewards are huge! Financial – Happiness – Optimism … I could go on – Thanks as always for the inspiration!

    Dave

  2. Dave, another poignant read.

    Excellence demonstrated by customer alignment and value are not yet the “new normal”. Buyer surveys consistently say over 70% of sellers are meerly pitching product. Average. Undifferentiated. Not compelling.

    Sellers who put themselves in the < 30%, who get really aligned and specific with what they bring to their prospects, are…a breath of fresh air, above average, differentiated, compelling.

    A great test when we prepare our sales calls. Thanks for the insight.

    • Great comment Jim. The more prepared, the more specific, the more concrete we can be in each interchange with the customer, the more effective we will be in connecting with them.

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