How to differentiate yourself successfully from the competition in COVID-21?

The webinar about how to differentiate yourself successfully from the competition. It is hosted by Dominique HANS, Sales Trainer, and Consultant at Perform’ Hans and Managing Partner at Value Selling Associates.

N.B: Avis aux français, les diapositives sont en français, puisque ce webinaire a été créé pour le marché français, mais est valade pour tous types de pays en temps de covid.

Webinar Agenda:

  • Current context
  • What needs to be changed?
  • How: Draw your client’s attention.
  • Create a need for a differentiator.
  • Find out the value of this difference.
  • Differentiate proactively.

Differentiation FAILURES and impacts:

how to differentiate yourself from the competition

Current context:

  • Most markets are saturated:
    • Flooded with a low-priced competition.
    • Competitors look alike.
  •  The purchasing cycle becomes more complicated:
    • Power changes
    • Budget arbitration
    • What is the value?

Current context

The purchasing cycle has very much changed. Now, customers have the power and make their own choices. For budget reasons, companies often decide to internalise their solutions. Consequently, to sell, we need to start off and establish a dialogue around value unlike the example below.

Up to now 71 % of salespeople only talk about their product. This way of selling no longer works.

Old way of selling

What does it mean for sales professionals?

  • Fewer opportunities.
  • Behaviour/Competencies/Expertise.
  • The differentiation must go beyond the product and its abilities.
  • The dialogue around value must be significant and relevant.

Consequences of covid crisis on sales

Different or differentiated:

Different:

It refers to the list of your unique abilities. We mean here by unique abilities, the functionalities, and differentiating elements of the products.

Differentiation:

Successfully link your unique abilities with your potential customers’ issues. In other terms, sell unique abilities that are relevant and valuable to your customers.

Let me give you an example:

If I have a business based in France and only working with customers, trying to sell our international services and expertise will not interest them at all.

Furthermore, it is the salesperson’s role to discover additional problems to resolve, which will create further needs.

Going even further/beyond…:

Widen/Research your customer requests to put forward your unique solution abilities compared to the competition.

how to differentiate yourself from the competition: different or differentiated

How to successfully differentiate yourself from your competitors?

  • Success rests on the knowledge of companies and their business.
  • Our competitive advantage is in the way we sell our products and services, and not based on our product or technical knowledge.
  • Become an expert in problems by asking questions to find a solution for our clients.

How to differentiate yourself successfully from your competitors

The reversed approach:

  • Understand what urges your potential client to listen to you.
  • Switch your dialogue to draw the attention of your conversation partners.
  • Link your solution to your potential client’s problems.
  • Put into practice the differentiation method to all your clients’ messages: introductions, proposals, customised communications. Repeat 2-3 times throughout your negotiation the differentiating points.

How to differentiate yourself from the competition: the reversed approach

5 differentiating sectors:

  • Abilities
  • Reduction of risk/brand
  • General Terms and Conditions
  • Client experience
  • Price.

5 differentiating sectors

Terms and conditions: small and mid-sized companies can allow themselves to be a little more flexible with their terms and conditions.

Customer experience: the stakes are to figure out the client’s priorities and challenges.

Position your differentiation:

1- The client recognises the need: his problems.

2. The client searches for a solution.

3. Discovery of additional problems: reducing the competition.

The salesperson must look for additional problems to create the need.

Position your differentiation

The challenge of value fulfilment:

The customers’ stakes are the centre of this challenge and are composed of:

  • Stakes
  • Problems
  • Solutions
  • Achieved value.

The challenge of value fulfilment

Develop the value for the client:

VB or BV = Business Value

The tangible value is measured by calculating the Return On Investment (ROI) and the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), while the intangible value can be achieved with a sound sales pitch.

For example, the price can be determined by measuring the key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the trading ability.

VP or PV = Personal Value

Personal value is of an inestimable value. It answers the question: What will I earn from it?

For example, for the customer experience, the salesperson must find out what are the client’s personal values, e.g., self-sufficiency, innovation.

For that, they can ask the client: ‘What is important to you personally?’ The salesperson can also help the customer delve further into their decisions since customers often do not take the time to work on this. The salesperson can ask: ‘How do you perceive this solution?’

Develop the value for the client

However, the absence of differentiation rarely indicates that a product or a service is of bad quality. It generally means that we have not succeeded in discovering what was important for the company and for the client.

In the current context where everything goes fast, the client rarely notices this. That is why it is important to ask them more questions to discover their needs.

Differentiation gaps

How do you differentiate yourself?

  1. Follow-up customer’s needs to put forward your unique abilities compared to the competition.
  2. Develop the value of your differentiators in your potential clients’ and clients’ minds.
  3. Bring concrete answers to your clients’ key stakes by becoming their personal trusted adviser.

How to differentiate yourself

Action Plan TO differentiate yourself from your competitors:

  • Choose an ongoing opportunity:
    • Step 1: Determine where you are different or better than the competing alternative choices.
    • Step 2: Are these differences linked to problems by your client?
    • Step 3: Create specific questions to discover new needs linked to these differentiators.
  • Discover the Personal and Business Values linked to your main differentiators.

Action Plan

Before moving to the conclusion, please find answers to the asked questions:

Question 1: Can you please talk about the case of an invitation to public tender/procurement?

Answer: The invitation to tender/the call for bids is a list of the client’s solutions and problems. You need to answer that list and ask your client what are their priorities.

Question 2: What is the human factor in the differentiation?

Answer: Distance selling implies more importance on the content rather than the human interaction.

Question 3: How can I identify the personal value without appearing intrusive?

Answer: The personal value can only be identified in one-to-one meetings with each decision-maker. One needs to identify all alternatives. For example, for a service, you can consider as important the client’s time, money, and human resources.  Traditionally, you can only ask these questions at the second or third meeting. If the client doesn’t answer, you shouldn’t insist and take time to build the relationship.

Question 4: What can I do when a potential client requests a demonstration before even negotiating?

Answer: We highly recommend you leave the demonstration at the very end of the negotiation process, as it often lacks interactions with clients when doing so. If you do go ahead with a demo, make sure to ask for the client’s feedbacks and initiate the demo with the following questions: Your time is precious. I do not want to waste your time. Can I ask you further questions to present you with the most appropriate information/demonstration?

Finally, ‘clients do not buy what you do, but why you do it.’ Quote by Simon Sinek, ‘Start with why’ author.

Differentiation strategy conclusion

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