Especially in the current economy, one danger of selling to price conscious companies or consumers is the potential for being commoditized. If your prospect has already decided that they will buy, and the only decision they must make is who they will choose to buy from, then the “why me?” nature of your sales call will, by default, commoditize you. How can you more effectively differentiate yourself?
For starters, you can abandon the “why me?” methods that all of your competitors are using and utilize the ways of salespeople who must instead simply sell the “why?” When these sellers conduct sales calls, they usually find that there isn’t a budget for what they have, prospects are not predisposed to buy and instead of talking about why they are different, they have to uncover the compelling reasons why their prospects would buy at all. It’s a totally different strategy.
Those of you who have been utilizing the “why me?” will find that the simplest way to differentiate yourself is to stop talking about why you’re different or better, stop attempting to differentiate on price, stop trying to justify a higher price, and instead, uncover the compelling reasons why they would buy at all – from anyone. It is there where you will differentiate yourself from everyone else. Your questions, the conversation they lead to, the problems, issues, challenges and compelling reasons you discover, and discuss. will differentiate you from everyone else.
Let’s take one of the most common commodities of all – copiers – as an example. The copier salesperson knows that the prospect will buy/lease because the current lease expires at the end of the month. How does this person differentiate? Right – “let’s see how we can save you some money over what you are currently paying.”
Instead, what if this salesperson simply asked, “have you thought about why you are even getting a new machine? What’s wrong with what you have?” Rather than talking about all the features of the machines that have been manufactured in the past three years, this salesperson should allow the prospect to talk about how frequently the machine is down for service and how the quality of the copies has been on the decline. That leads to a discussion about reliability and may eliminate the current copier vendor. The next area to explore might be “who are the users of the machine, how do they use it and what would make life easier on them?” If you continue to ask questions instead of pushing a cost-savings proposal, you will effectively differentiate yourself, set the stage for a needs appropriate solution, justify a margin-saving price, and uncommoditize yourself in the process.
For more detailed tips and examples on compelling reasons, commodity busters and saving margin, review the chapters on getting to 2nd and 3rd base in Baseline Selling.