Selling against competition is all about selling the difference: what is so special about your product or service and what do these ‘differences’ mean to your customer? But this is relatively conventional wisdom. It poses the question – what do you do when your differentiators are elusive – when your product or service is pretty much the same as everyone else’s?
In today’s marketplace products and services are indeed becoming more and more alike, and selling the difference is becoming a greater challenge for many more sellers. So: what is the solution to elusive differentiation?
The answer is ‘you’, the salesperson. How you sell is becoming the key differentiator when selling against competition. In fact, one of the most important changes we are seeing in the sales world is that customers are beginning to rank salesperson effectiveness above product quality and service features as the most important factor influencing their decision to buy.
Quick Tip: you can immediately add value to the way you sell by saying to your potential customers – “You can’t buy anything from my company without getting me with it, my help, my assistance, my backup, me on the end of the phone”.
The 4 Levels of Sales Effectiveness
To better understand how to upskill your sales team to sell more effectively against competition, it may be helpful to investigate the 4 levels of sales team effectiveness (see below).
Each of the four levels corresponds with increased sales effectiveness and value for the customer. As your sales team moves towards Level 4 you are much more likely to differentiate yourself from the competition and win the business.
Level 1 sales teams sell products and services. They represent the ‘talking brochure’ type of salesperson. In today’s marketplace, where there is so much information readily available online, there is not much value in having a Level 1 sales team.
Level 2 sales teams add great customer service to their product knowledge – a great ‘brand’ experience. People buy people first. At every touchpoint Level 2 sales teams set out to delight their customers, and people enjoy doing business with them.
Level 3 sales teams add value by solving problems. This is the ‘Consultative’ solution-selling approach, and is the benchmark for B to B sales today. But therein lies a challenge – as more and more sales teams become expert at Consultative selling, how are you going to differentiate yourself in the eyes of your customers?
You need to add more value. Especially for larger sales, you need to go to Level 4.
Are You Selling at Level 4?
Level 4 sales teams go one step further and act as a ‘Partner’ for their customers. Level 4 sales teams are viewed by their customers as part of their management team. Such salespeople bring the customer new insights – new ways to improve their business. When a Level 4 salesperson sits in front of a customer he or she presents new information on how they can run their business more effectively. They get the reaction – ‘We hadn’t thought of that before’. Level 4 sellers identify prospects by asking ‘Who can we teach something to?’
Level 4 sellers add the most value and win the most sales. The way they sell is a strong differentiator.
Are you selling at Level 4? The acid test is to ask whether your customer would still hire you as a consultant if you no longer had your product or service to sell.
Sales Training with LDL
To differentiate yourself from the competition more effectively, it is essential to develop the skills of your sales team. Whatever your starting point might be, LDL sales training – with its focus on Consultative-Partner selling – will enable your sales team to move step-by-step towards Level 4.
To succeed in sales you must really want the business. This sounds obvious, but it is much deeper than it appears. Giving your customer the impression you will go the extra mile, you really want their business can be very persuasive. Think about your own experiences. Time and again if people have gone to great
People buy people first, and whatever else second. This is one of the timeless principles of selling and it hasn’t changed in today’s hybrid world. If people don’t feel they can work with you, if they don’t feel comfortable or trust you, they will usually not tell you – but they will buy from someone else.
In response to the pandemic selling has changed, perhaps forever. Virtual sales meetings are now being used by almost everyone. Surveys confirm many buyers prefer it. But this poses the question – When everyone is selling on screen how can you stand out and differentiate yourself? What is best practice?