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Insight, Co-Creation, De-commoditization

by David Brock on July 11th, 2013

Let’s face it!  When we wash away all the hyperbole, so many of our products, services and solutions have become commoditized.  When I first started selling, I sold mainframe computers, today, they’re virtually commoditized.  Take complex enterprise software systems, whether ERP, CRM, whatever; for all  intents they’re commoditized.  While proud sales people might say, “We handle the date field differently than anyone else.” it’s really very difficult to differentiate them.  Maybe today’s release is a little better/richer than the alternatives, but tomorrow they stair step us.

Commoditization of our offerings strikes terror into all our hearts.  In a commoditized world, price is King  (That is the lowest prices)!

I could go on, but you get the point.  One of the biggest issues I see with many sales teams is, “How do we differentiate ourselves?  How do we de-commoditize our offerings?”

Product guys are figuring out how to add more features, functions, bells, whistles (actually increasing complexity for a customer point of view). And it takes time to get those solutions released.  M&A guys are trying to figure out, “What companies to we acquire to enrich/expand our offerings?”  But too many of those really don’t work out quite like we expected.   Marketing guys are trying to figure out how to “message” everything, and CFO’s are trying to figure out how we remain profitable given everything is becoming commoditized.

But it’s really much simpler, the answers hit us in the face everyday, we just haven’t been paying sufficient attention.  What we sell has become far less important than how we sell.  We don’t have to provide the best product, solution, features, functions, feeds and speeds.  Our customers live in phenomenally complex worlds.  They are overwhelmed by work, they have too few resources, and no time.  Proverbially, they are so busy fighting the alligators, they don’t have time to drain the swamp.

This creates huge opportunities for us.  We are obligated–on behalf of our customers to seize them.  We just have to show them better ways.  We just have to help make our customers lives and businesses better.  We just have to help them recognize they should change.  We just have to help them manage through the process–desire, problem identification, definition, and so forth.  We just need to help the manage the complexity of the process-simplifying where possible.

The solution to the commoditization of our offerings, largely lies in the way we engage our customers, the value we bring in co-creation, developing rich and deep insight unique to their business and operations, developing solutions to very difficult problems, and helping them grow and thrive.

The secret to de-commoditization lies in the value we create in the process.  What we do as sales professionals, how we sell, how we engage is the ultimate in differentiation.  We become the differentiators, it is through us, that we de-commoditize our offerings, making them unique in the eyes of the customer.

If you don’t believe this, Try Selling Sand!

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2 Comments
  1. Brian MacIver permalink

    Another Great post Dave,
    and an extension to our thinking on Insights and Selling.

    I particularly liked:

    “We become the differentiators, it is through us, that we de-commoditize our offerings, making them unique in the eyes of the customer.”

    And would build on that:
    Indeed WE become INTEGRATORS of our product or service INTO our Customer’s Value Generation Process.

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