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Are You Really Different? (cloudhosted)

Are you really different from your competition? And if so, do they really care? These are two questions that you need to ask yourself. Let’s do the first question: Are you really different?

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I’ve worked with scores of sales teams and hundreds of sales professionals over the last few years — thousands actually. And most of them tell me that their company is different. They say, “We’re better. We do it differently. We offer something that no one else does.” And I ask, “Really? Are you sure about that? Because I just trained a company last week that said exactly the same thing.”

Sometimes, all you have to do is to go online and compare websites — between you and your competition — and you might find out that sadly, you’re all doing the same thing.

So when we talk about differentiation, you have to be super clear and confident that, in fact, you are different and that there are real points of differentiation. That you’re not just saying it but you’re living it. It’s true.

Let me give you another example. I hear so many companies talk about service as a differentiator. That is just one of my biggest pet peeves. “We offer better service.” – What does that mean? Have they actually conducted client satisfaction surveys to prove that? Probably not. It’s just anecdotal. “Oh, I think we’re doing a good job. I think we give good service.” You know what? That’s exactly what your competitor down the street is saying.

Service isn’t a differentiator; service is just your point of entry. That’s your baseline, your foundation, the fundamentals. Everybody gives “good service” or should. If they don’t, they’re gone. But most people do give good service.

So what else? You need to find some other points of differentiation and make sure that it’s true. For example, maybe you’re saying “We have the best pizza in town.” I’ve seen these things. “We have the best coffee in town.” Really? Who said so? Your mom? Have you validated that with survey results? Is it a scientific poll? Or, again, is it just anecdotal marketing? You have to be very careful.

There’s a concept out there, it’s called “Truth in advertising.” You have to be truthful about your claims. They have to be substantiated claims and not just chest-puffing claims. ”We’re #1.” According to who? “My boss?” You have to make sure that what you say is true and it’s a real differentiator. That’s the first part.

If you can substantiate those claims, for examples; we’re the best, we’re the fastest, we offer the highest service, we have the lowest price, we have the highest quality, we have the biggest selection — Now the second part is that even if the differentiator is true, you then have to be able to communicate that that’s important to customers. Do they care? Why should they care?

Here’s a case in point. We all know with cell phones there’s sim cards; micro sims, nano sims and more. Do we really care whether it’s a sim, nano, or micro? Are those really differentiators? They may be different, like “Oh, our phone comes with a nano sim instead of the old micro sim.” But we may go “I don’t care. Like I really don’t care.” So we have to be really careful.

“Oh, we use this proprietary formula in our product or service.” Okay.. but that’s a feature. It’s not an advantage nor a benefit unless you can clearly communicate what the advantage or benefit is.

So you have to be sure of two things: Number one, is our claim true? Number two, is our claim useful?