Every day, I get a sales pitch through some channel. Often, the theme is something along the lines, “Your competition is doing these things (or using our product), we’d like to show you how you can do the same thing they are doing.”
Alternatively, I talk to “sales strategists.” They assess the competition with the idea of copying what they are doing. Particularly those competitors that are perceived as market leaders. I suppose the thinking is, “If we do more thing like them, we will win more business.”
Both these arguments are so flawed. We don’t win business because we look just like our competitors. We don’t win because we are doing the same things our competition does.
We win because we are different from our competition–in ways that are important to our customers.
I’ll listen to those sales pitches telling me how a vendor is making my competitors so successful. I’ll listen not because I’m interested in doing the same thing, or buying that vendor’s product that enables me to be “just like my competition.” I’ll listen so I can do exactly the opposite and set our company apart from the competition.
We should watch our competitors very carefully, as well. But not to copy them, but to do exactly the opposite thing, to better differentiate ourselves in ways that are meaningful to the customer.
It’s so obvious, yet we get it so wrong.
We win because we are different, because we are differentiated, in ways that are important to our customers. We don’t win because we can do the same things our competitors do.
This creates an interesting challenge for how we deal with references. Often, we approach our accounts with the idea that, “We work with others in your industry who are achieving these results.” It’s a powerful way to establish interest, prospects should be interested in what their competitors are doing and how they are achieving results.
But we won’t win by saying, “If you did the same thing…..” We have to drill down, we have to look at, with our customer, “What might this mean to them…” Not copying what their competition is doing, but how they can leverage the solution to better differentiate themselves. It’s actually not difficult to do, but it requires us to drill down into what the customer is trying to achieve and how we can help them specifically achieve that. Each company/competitor is different, what they get from the implementation of our solutions can differentiate them. We have to help them identify how they can differentiate themselves with our solutions. We don’t help our customers improve by saying “you can be just like everyone else.”
We don’t win by being the same as our competitors. Our customers don’t win by being the sale as their competitors. We have to figure out how we ere different in ways that are important. We have to help our customers figure out how they can be different in ways that are important to their customers.