What is your value proposition? Sometimes we think that we have our sales pitch down. But, when we stand next to our competitor, are we really able to say what differentiates Comstor?
Years ago I had the opportunity to attend a workshop where I learned the above core principle. The instructor gave us all time to think about what distinguishes us from our competitors. In essence, we needed to answer the question “What makes you unique?”
Thirty minutes later…as a team we felt pretty good about the pitch we just delivered and the instructors’ response was a wake up call:
“I engage with IT solution providers like you every day and the approach used to articulate your value proposition is largely the same. If you want to be different, don’t start with how long you’ve been in the business, the number of certifications you have as a company or the number and breadth of certified individuals that are employed by ABC Company. The attention span for most individuals is at its highest at the beginning and at end of your pitch. Hence, you need to be able to distinguish yourself within the first 5-7 minutes, or risk looking and sounding like everyone else.”
You have to show up differently– it is a concept that has resonated with me ever since, begging me to ask these questions of myself: How do I show up differently? How do I get and maintain The attention of prospects?
In our market, it can be tough to differentiate yourself. But over the years, I’ve learned the following strategies can help you show up differently:
1. Focus on Customer Goals:
It seems simple, but a great number of sales people fail to follow through with listening and focusing on customer goals. It is easy to go into a client meeting with an hour’s long presentation on what you and your company do well, and it is easy to assume the typical pain points. But, how can you authentically connect with the customer’s business goals and provide additional perspective on the path to achieving them? You need to know where their business is headed and the potential challenges along the landscape ahead. Investing the time and effort to understand your customer’s business will have a direct impact on your ability to show up differently.
2. Know that problems present opportunities:
Joseph Sugarman, famed marketing innovator, once said: “Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who recognized a problem and turned it into an opportunity.”
Ultimately, problems do present opportunities. And, while problems aren’t necessarily fun or productive in business, they do often present an opportunity to demonstrate how you can differentiate yourself.
For example, suppose your partner is awarded a multi-million dollar deal and not long afterwards they suddenly realize that the customer’s technology roll-out requirements scale beyond the partners’ current capacity to stage and deliver product. If you can proactively help them identify the problem and demonstrate your ability to dynamically scale your available resources to meet customer need, you can convert a problem into an opportunity.
3. You won’t always have the solution, but you can always share an idea:
Part and parcel to those opportunity-presenting problems is also the opportunity to collaborate and brainstorm solutions. Sometimes you will encounter a situation where there is no obvious answer or apparent solution that your company can provide. In this scenario, simply sharing an idea or offering to bridge a connection can often put you on the path to becoming a trusted advisor. As a colleague once told me, “The one thing partner executives are always looking for is ideas.” And, if you reach a point where executives come to you looking for ideas, you know you’re showing up differently.
At the end of the day, it is up to you– up to us– to demonstrate that we are unique, as professionals and also in what we offer our prospects. And, with refined and developed unique value propositions, you can move your value beyond cost by differentiating yourself.
Remember that in highly competitive environments, distinguishing yourself is never easy and showing up differently sometimes means challenging old ways of thinking.
To learn more from the Comstor sales team, click here.