Reprinted from The Don Hutson Report
My favorite question to ask sales professionals and entrepreneurs is “How are your offerings different
from and better than those of your competitors?” Anytime I get a response like, “Well… Uh……” I know I
am talking to someone in big trouble. The key to gaining market share and prospering in today’s
competitive environment is to differentiate yourself, your company, and your offerings as distinctively and
creatively as you can. You need to stand out from the crowd!
My second favorite question to ask them is “How many of your differentiators represent ways you are
personally distinctive and creative in serving your customers and providing them with a solution?”
Many people think there are only two types of differentiation: Product and Price. That shallow
perspective will not advance one’s effort to gain market share and outperform the competition. Neither
your product nor your price encompass your personal service, the effort you put forth to help them solve
their problem, or the creativity with which you involve your team members in creating a solution for them.
So please don’t go to market thinking you must have the absolute best product or the absolute lowest
price to win!
Our U.S. Learning model is made up of seven types of differentiation, and the thoughtful consideration of
each, including brainstorming with your colleagues, can assist you in creating a platform for winning more
business than ever. Here’s a list of each of the seven with definitions…
1. Relationship Differentiation – If you have done a fine job of developing a relationship with a
given prospect or client it might well give you the edge over your immediate competitors.
People still want to do business with people they know, like and trust. The relationship can
make or break any deal, so give each one your best effort!
2. Technological Differentiation – How is the solution you are offering technologically superior to
the competition? When you do your needs-analysis ask what features or benefits could
revolutionize products in your space. Push the envelope in coming up with technological
advances that will give you a competitive edge. It may be your prospect’s idea, or your Director
of Product Development’s invention or advancement, but you can be the facilitator to bring it
about. If it is not about the product itself, technological differentiation could be about the
means and methods of communication you deploy.
3. Marketing Differentiation – All other things being equal, if your marketing process is superior, you have a good shot at securing the business! Marketing has typically been perceived as sales, public relations, and advertising. In today’s world of business development it should also include social media.
4. Process Differentiation – This is how you and your company do what you do. Do you have creative processes of doing business that separates you from the crowd? One of the best things you can do to make and keep customers happy is to take the pain out of their life! Put processes in place that delight your customers and make you easy to do business with.
5. Experiential Differentiation – When was the last time you did something that made your customer say “Wow!”? Many today believe we are in an “Experience economy” where the mundane transaction falls far behind a dynamic service experience. This is the service side of selling. When you can amaze and delight a customer it will propel you to (or closer to) the top of their preferred vendor list!
6. Product Differentiation – There will be times in your career when you are offering a truly superior product. When the stars align and this happens, make hay while the sun shines. Always push for superior product development in your company! It can often be inspired by a customer who is articulating a new need.
7. Price Differentiation – This is when you either have the lowest price or (more generally) the best value proposition. I believe there is more opportunity to sell value rather than cut price! Tap the “collective intellect” of your team members and decide the most advantageous manner to go to market!
In the coming weeks/months, look for a lengthier explanation of each of the seven types in this report and work to become the unique and creative choice in your arena. Standing out from the crowd is your best ticket to growing your business!
Written by Society of Entrepreneurs member, Don Hutson, a #1 NY Times and Wall Street Journal Best-selling author and a Hall of Fame speaker. He also serves a CEO of U. S. Learning based in Memphis, TN
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