Eight ways for sales reps to differentiate from the competition

Differentiating from competitors

How can sales people differentiate themselves from their competitors? We asked some sales managers to share their advice. They said:

1. Sell a total solution.  Most sales reps focus too much on the product per se. To differentiate yourself, sales reps must move beyond the product, identifying the value-adds that help the customer achieve their business outcomes.

2. Understand your competitor.  The competition isn’t just the other company – it’s also the company’s sales reps.  So, know who the competitive sales reps are, their histories with the account, and their relationships with the customer.

3. Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships.  Although effective B2B selling is not just relationship selling, selling is still a personal business. People buy from who they know and like – so get to know your customers and build relationships with them.

4. Have solid product knowledge. But, also be an effective communicator, do what you say you are going to do, have unbridled enthusiasm, and convey an undying belief in your company.

5. Create an accurate picture of the competitive landscape. Learn who your supporters and adversaries are. Determine how much impact they have on the buying decision and have an accurate picture of the competition – not just from your point of view but, more importantly, from the customer’s view.

6. Distinguish yourself by how you sell, not just by what you sell. Use the sales process to help your customers develop a more comprehensive understanding of the scope of the problem

7. Look at the big picture. Understand the external issues facing the company – e.g., economic shifts, regulatory changes, and industry trends.

8. Leverage your experience.  While the depth of your customers’ knowledge about their own company is significant, as a sales person you can bring breadth to the sales environment by helping the customer see how other companies have tackled similar issues.

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©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

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. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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