Articulating Differentiation: 5 Ways to Trap the Competition

Best-in-class sellers know how to effectively articulate differentiation in a way that builds a connection back to the positive business outcomes their customers are trying to achieve. Having a solid grasp of how your products, services and even your company are different and better than the competition creates the opportunity for you to show your buyer value.

If you can’t describe to your customer your differentiators, you’ll lose the deal, or be forced to lower your price. Differentiating your sales messaging as a sales organization demands reps understand how their solution provides value, and how it is different or better than their competitors.

Differentiators Are Broken Down Into Three Categories:

Unique Differentiators

Unique differentiators describe attributes of your offerings that are not available from other competitors.

Comparative Differentiators

Comparative differentiators describe attributes of your offerings that are superior or different in some specific way to competitive alternatives.

Holistic Differentiators

Holistic differentiators are less about features and functions and more about your company in general (e.g., financial stability, share of the marketplace, etc…)

Five Things to Remember About Differentiators:

1. Unique differentiators are effective if you have them

The problem is unique differentiators are fleeting. Today’s unique product feature is tomorrow’s expectation. Deals are won and lost on comparative differentiators.

2. Customers are used to evaluating their options in terms of comparative differentiators

How are you better or different than other possible solutions? Buyers are skeptical of unique differentiators. (Of course you’ll say you’re the only one in the market doing XYZ; you want my business.)

Give them the necessary information, so they can effectively compare solutions. If you don’t mention your comparative differentiators, your customer may assume you don’t have the same capability.

3. Comparative differentiators are a great way to set traps for your competition

Especially when your potential customer evaluates options. If both you and the competition can perform a given function, then articulating the comparative differentiation forces your competition to live up to their claims.

If your way produces more value and your competition really can’t perform the function as well as you can (e.g., their solution requires several workarounds), then they discredit themselves. This will cause prospects to doubt other claims they’ve made as well.

4. Use your differentiators to influence the decision criteria, via the required capabilities

This tactic allows your customer to see the value your solution provides and demonstrates the lack of functionality and/or the diminished value of your competition. If your differentiators become part of the decision criteria, then you’ve got a good shot at winning the deal.

5. Don’t focus on holistic differentiators too early in the sales cycle

Early in the buying process, your potential buyer is much more focused on evaluating how your solutions map to their required capabilities. This is when you need to highlight how your solutions can help alleviate their most pressing business needs. At this stage, your customer likely doesn’t care about your company history or your brand new logo.

Watch Force Management’s John Kaplan talk about the importance of articulating comparative differentiation in this clip:

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