I was talking to a team of sales people about engaging their customers with insight and getting them to think about their businesses in different ways.
They happened to sell supply chain management software. The software, like most other supply chain software solutions enabled their customers to better understand and manage inventory, orders, quality, scheduling and other things with their supplier.
We had developed some unique insights based on benchmarks with customers and supported by case studies.
As we were talking about what these meant to the customer and how to engage the customer in the conversation, a sales person raised an issue.
“As much as we like to think our solution is unique and highly differentiated, our competitors can do similar things. How do we deal with the situation where we are providing the insights and the competitors say, ‘We can do the same thing/'”
It was an important question, too many haven’t thought this out.
How would you handle it if you were presenting the value your solution creates and the competitor simply says, “We can do that as well!”
Too often, the reality is that our solutions aren’t highly differentiated from our competitors. Certainly there are some things we do better and some they do better, but for the most part it may be very difficult to differentiate the value of the alternative solutions–at least in substantive ways.
The differentiator is the sales person that engages the customer in those insight driven, learning conversations. That’s what the customer is paying for that’s what the customer is buying.
Certainly, the actual ability to produce the result through the implementation of the solution, is critical, if everyone can do the same thing, how is the customer going to make a decision.
It will always be to the sales person that is providing them the leadership to look at their business differently. It’s the sales person that helps them identify where they can improve, how they can do it, what it might mean that’s truly creating value for the customer.
Your competition isn’t doing that. They are simply saying “I can do the same thing,” but they aren’t the people helping the customer identify how they can grow, improve, achieve.
Sure your customer might say, “They can do the same thing only 10% cheaper!”
Your immediate, proud response must be, “But where were they giving you the ideas and identifying the opportunity to enable you to solve that problem and to better achieve your goals?”
Our products and the value they create when implemented are table stakes. We absolutely have to produce the results, otherwise we shouldn’t be considered. But others can too.
What’s going to cause the customer to buy from you is the leadership you provide to help them run their businesses better, because they aren’t getting that from your competition!