There are a lot of organizations out there that tout what makes them different from the competition. However, at times, that differentiation is simply talk and no action. What's on the PowerPoint slides fails to translate to the real-life customer experience.
You can't just proclaim differentiation as an organization. You need to be able to justify it and demonstrate you really do what you say you do. That's step one. Step two is another area where many organizations fall short. It involves equipping your reps with the ability to articulate differentiation in a way that has meaning to the buyer.
Your sales organization needs to establish customer relevance for differentiators. You don't want your reps, at any level, just rattling off differentiation unless it has meaning to the buyer. If you tell me that your marketing software solution can integrate with Salesforce, but I'm on HubSpot, then that differentiation means nothing to me. Many sales organizations are plagued with reps that show up and throw up their differentiation, whether those factors matter to the customer or not. Your sales teams need to be equipped with the ability to set the customer context before you talk about why you’re different than the competition. Below are the steps we would take to equip your sales reps with this ability.
Build cross-functional alignment on the essential questions
Every department in your organization (e.g., sales, marketing, product, services, etc. . . ) must have a clear understanding of the problems you solve for your buyers and the positive business outcomes you drive, as well as how you deliver that value differently or better than your competitors. Without that clarity, salespeople can’t execute a value message or that buyer conversation effectively. They are unable to demonstrate a clear message for the buyer because what they say is often lost in a sea of mixed messages from digital avenues, technical consultants, etc. . .
Everyone in your company should have the same answers to these essential questions:
What business problems do you solve for your customers?
How do you specifically solve those problems?
How do you do it differently than your competition?
What’s your proof?
If you want to improve sales performance, you need to ensure your organization has alignment and focus on these essential questions. When it comes to differentiation, you need to first have cross-functional clarity on what makes you different from the competition. Then, your reps can work on adapting its positioning to what is relevant to the buyers. That foundation gives your salespeople and additional customer-facing teams with the ability to be successful at the buyer-level.
Teach the importance of defining requirements for success
Differentiation will only be an asset to your sales teams if they're able to tie it to the customer's required capabilities or requirements for success of their solution. Using the simple explanation above. A rep should ask something like, how are you planning to track this platform as part of the CRM ecosystem? Then, when they say it needs to integrate into the CRM. You call that factor a required capability. That capability is important to the buyer's success whether they purchase a solution from you or not.
You have established relevant differentiation when the required capabilities are tied to what makes you different from the competition. Equipping reps with the ability to execute discovery with the intent to trap the competition (trap-setting questions) is essential to establishing differentiation that has meaning to the buyer in every opportunity.
Coach and reinforce
Your reps can't just be told what to do. They need to be shown how to do it. Using trap-setting questions and getting your differentiation into the buyer's requirements isn't easy. It's particularly difficult when you have greener reps calling on established executives. Don't shortcut enabling your front-line managers to coach and reinforce new concepts within your sales teams.