For the past 17 years, I have been a guest lecturer on the topic of strategic thinking at the Wharton School of Business. I do not teach this class to undergraduates, but instead to a group of the top financial advisors in America. One of the key things they want to learn is how to strategically differentiate themselves in an extremely crowded and competitive marketplace. Although I spend several hours on this topic, I can boil it all down to one simple, but incredibly hard-to-implement idea.

To be successful in the marketplace, you must deliver a product or service that is unique, compelling, and of very high value to your target customers that is difficult, if not impossible, for your competition to copy and that you can execute on flawlessly.

Go back and read that again.

In other words, you have to sell something that is exciting and clearly different in a way that your customers are eager to pay whatever reasonable price you ask for. It also needs to be differentiated in a way that is extremely difficult for your competition to copy and you must be able to deliver it to your customers exactly as you promised, when you promised it, and for the price you promised. I challenge you to take a few minutes and write down precisely how what you sell meets all of these criteria.

Now, if you thought that was hard, try this: What do you personally, as the salesperson, do for your customers that meet the same criteria? What is unique, exciting and compelling about you? How are you, your skills, and expertise differentiated from all the other salespeople in your field, and in a way that is very, very hard for them to copy? How, specifically, do you deliver more value and better customer care than anyone else in your industry? Often times when a customer asks, “What is different about your product compared to your competition?” Many salespeople will say, “You get me!” Again, I challenge you to write down exactly what YOU do that meets all of the criteria I have listed above and undeniably makes you the special value-add in the sales equation.

Lots of salespeople say they want to be positioned as a “Trusted Advisor,” and achieve a very high level of sales success, but very few are willing to do the difficult things and hard work necessary to attain that success. If you want to be among the best in your industry I encourage you to think deeply about what I’ve shared with you here and develop a plan to deliver, demonstrate and communicate how you and what you sell is truly of extraordinary value to your customers.

I’ll be sharing more insights on how to succeed and differentiate during my presentation at the Sales Machine Conference NYC 16, presented by Salesforce and Sales Hacker.

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