Sales Differentiation

Normally, this blog wouldn’t be the first place to go for sales advice.  But, Jeff Leitner wrote this a while back and I have been thinking about it recently as I work with one of my consulting companies.  It is a classic.

Step 1 in sales, determine the prospect’s stomach for change.
No matter what he says, there’s a significant cost to changing.
Even if what he’s changing is no product/service.
Figure out what the financial cost, the psychic cost, the emotional cost of change.
And only then do you turn your attention to step 2.

Step 2 is to change the game.
If you’re competing against an existing product/service, there’s little chance he’s changing vendors.
Instead, you have to craft and then sell something very different than the incumbent sells.
You can’t sell better or more or enhanced or even cheaper (commodities aside).
You have to sell something substantively different, that solves a qualitatively different problem than the incumbent is solving.

Men don’t leave their wives for prettier girls.
Men leave their wives for substantively different, qualitatively different things that they can’t get from their wives.
Prospects are the same.

If you can’t put together a substantively different offer, you can’t win.
Even if you’re competing against no product/service.
Or an ugly wife.

One thought on “Sales Differentiation”

  1. Definitely agree on a high level with his assessment. However, I think it also depends on the kind of market you are attacking and at what stage of development that market is at. I read “Crossing the Chasm” not too long ago by Geoffrey Moore. He talks about the excitement generated at the early stages of selling disruptive products and how difficult it is to “cross the chasm” once the initial “innovators” and “early-adopters” have purchased your product. You may have a great product or service, but if you can’t convince the majority users to change, your business will dry up. It involves the cliched line of “knowing your customer” and finding a way to make people who perhaps aren’t enamored with your service to feel comfortable giving it a try, and then keeping them.

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