How can sales reps create value and differentiate themselves from competitors?

In many posts we’ve talked about customer value, how a sales person can create value for their customers, and the importance of selling value. It’s also a central point in almost all of our sales training programs.    

Create Customer Value and Differentiate from Competitors

At the beginning of sales training programs we often ask sales people to think back to a sales call where they did an extraordinary job in creating value for a customer – and answer this question: “What did you do differently that enabled you to create extraordinary value for your customer?”     

What do they share? Regardless of what’s in a sales person’s “bag” three comments are the most “popular”.     

1. The most often heard comment is some variation of “I actually ‘sat down’ and planned the call rather than thinking about what I was going to do when at Starbucks just before it.”  Whether it’s this comment, or one like it, some variation of this theme is an oft-told tale.     

2. A second comment drills down on how the call was executed. Sales people tell us that asking questions made the difference, rather than the sales person talking most of the time.     

3. The third comment is the sales person focused on identifying the customer’s needs. This of course is music to the ears of all involved in sales training.     

Often, we pose a second question: “How can you do a better job than your competition in creating value for your customer?”  Or, in other words, how can you separate yourself from the pack? Five ideas we hear most often from sales people:     

1. Follow-through. Do what you say you will do when you said you would do it.     

2. Anticipate the future – be proactive.     

3. Have a strategic plan so you’re continuously moving towards meeting the account objective.     

4. Leverage your internal resources.     

5. Focus on the customer – not the competition.     

What would you add to the list?     

Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection.      

©2011 Sales Horizons, ™ LLC

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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