throwing money awayThe New Year often brings new models, new gadgets, new and improved services and items to sell. Is your sales kickoff rolling out the latest and greatest function and feature of the product you’re selling in 2014?

Don’t fall into this trap.

Salespeople are often enticed by the magic bullet product feature. They fall victim to the new shiny feature, and spend their sales conversations touting that knock-out function that makes their solution stand out in the eyes of the customer. It’s a classic symptom of Seller Deficit Disorder.

If you’re a veteran seller, and many of you are, you know that product uniqueness is fleeting. What’s unique today will often be copied tomorrow by your competition. If you rely solely on the latest and greatest feature of your products, you are crippling your longevity with a customer. It may work once, but good luck when it’s time to renew with the customer. You’ll need another magic bullet or you’ll be forced to lower your price.

Instead, focus your sales conversation on your defensible differentiators – those characteristics that drive long-lasting customer value and repeat business. Being able to articulate your differentiation is a critical component to effective sales messaging. In order to create value for the customer, you need to be able to show that what you’re selling:

  1. Maps to the prospect’s required capabilities
  2. Achieves the positive business outcomes he/she is looking to achieve
  3. Does both of these differently and/or better than the competition

Make these differentiators DEFENSIBLE, by providing evidence that backs up their credibility to your claims. Give tangible evidence that your solution does what you claim. Provide the proof with metrics and proof points.

Drill down on the positive business outcomes of your solution. Always look for specific measurable results – in dollars, numbers or percentages – when gathering evidence on the impact of your product and services.

Third-party testimonials can also help you demonstrate defensible differentiation. Don’t make your customer “take your word for it.” Give them third-party references that show your differentiation.

Proof points are one of the most effective components of the sales conversation, and they make your job as a seller a lot easier, especially when it comes to articulating value and differentiation. Create a process to consistently gather proof from your customers. The more you’re able to show the tangible results you achieved for another customer, the more your prospects will see the value in doing business with you.