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Prospecting Differentiation

by David Brock on April 17th, 2019

We want our prospecting efforts with customers to stand out. To, somehow, differentiate ourselves from the dozens of other prospecting calls or emails our customers receive.

Unfortunately, our efforts at differentiation tend to focus on the wrong thing—we focus on us–ourselves, our companies, what we sell. This leads our prospecting conversations to discussions about us:

  • “This is what we do…..”
  • “This is what we sell…..”
  • “This is how great our company is….”
  • “These are the people/companies we work with…..”
  • “This is how we are different……”

All of a sudden, a call that is supposed to be about the customer is translated into a monologue about us!

And, ironically, where we are trying to stand out, we are actually just being the same as everyone else!

Recently, a friend and I were having this conversation. He’s a top-level sales person. He was starting a series of prospecting calls on CEOs and we were talking about those conversations.

As we role played the calls, they kept coming back to his company. I asked, “Why are you making this conversation about you and your services? Why can’t you keep focused on the customer?”

His thoughtful response was, “I have to differentiate myself and my company from everyone else. He needs to know who we are and why we are different?”

My response was, “Why?”

That was the “aha” moment in our conversation. What we realized in the conversation was this simple fact: In a prospecting call, what we do and how we differentiate ourselves from the alternatives is absolutely meaningless! The time for this comes, when the customer is looking at solutions, but that’s rarely in the very first call. So why do we waste their time and ours by always leaping forward to these issues?

All we are trying to do in the call is to gain enough interest for the customer to ask, “Tell me more….” We are trying to get the customer interested enough to continue the conversation, to want to meet to learn more–and ultimately, what we can do to help them, and eventually, why we are different.

But in the prospecting call, all of this is absolutely irrelevant to the objective of the call.

Our goals in any prospecting call are not to “sell” them on anything–our products/services, our great company, what sets us apart. Our goals are simply to generate enough interest to get the prospect to say, “I want to learn more….can we meet?”

To achieve this outcome from our calls, we have to make our calls about them–about the challenges and opportunities they face, about problems they may be having, about things that are happening with their customers and markets, about the things that may be or should be “keeping them up at night!”

None of this has anything to do with us, what we do or why we are different, because in this call the customer doesn’t care! All they care about are the issues they care about–or should care about. As a result, we must focus our prospecting conversations on those things.

Yet, in the majority of our prospecting calls, we never to this, we never even give the customer the chance to say, “This is what I care about.” Instead we start the conversations with, “This is what we do…..would you like to learn more?”

It turns out the real differentiation in a prospecting call is not what sets us apart from our competition, or even what we do.

The real differentiation in a prospecting call is all about the customer and what they do, what they should be doing, and how they would like to improve.

We differentiate ourselves by making the call about them.

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  1. Natalie Brown permalink

    Well said Dave!

    Thank you for another great post. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what your goals of a meeting or interaction are with the customer and to forget that it should be about the customer’s goals.

  2. Natalie Brown permalink

    Well said Dave!

    Thank you for another great post. It is so easy to get wrapped up in what your goals of a meeting or interaction are with the customer and to forget that it should be about the customer’s goals.

    • Wow Natalie, you must have really liked it, commenting two times 😉 Sorry, couldn’t resist. Always great to see you commenting on the posts.

  3. As always — a great article. I learn from every one of our conversations. Thanks for the kindness to share your time and perspective. It completely upgraded my thought process on the subject.

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