appels_and_oranges.jpgIn complex B2B sales, there’s always a competitor in the sales equation. Even if your biggest competitor is “No Decision,” effectively articulating your differentiation, and the value you provide to your customer can make the difference between a closed deal and a lost opportunity.

Best-in-class sellers know how to effectively articulate differentiation in a way that connects back to the positive business outcomes their customers are trying to achieve. Having a solid grasp on how your products, services and company are different and better than the competition creates the opportunity for you to show value to your buyer.

Differentiators Categories

Unique Differentiators: Describe attributes of your offerings that are not available from other competitors. They are helpful during the early stages of the buying cycle when customers are defining their decision criteria. If a unique differentiator is part of their required capabilities, then you are likely going to win the opportunity.

Comparative Differentiators: Describe attributes of your offerings that are superior to or different from competitive alternatives. They play a critical role in the middle stages of the buying cycle, when customers are evaluating different vendors and available options.

Holistic Differentiators: They are less about features and functions and more about your company in general (e.g., financial stability, share of the marketplace, etc…). Holistic differentiators may include financial stability, company longevity and position within the industry. These differentiators are most helpful during the latter stages of the buying cycle, when mitigating risk and committing to a vendor are top of mind. Says Who?

How Can You Provide Value

Effectively articulating the value and differentiation of your products and services can make or break an opportunity. If you can’t describe to your customer how your solution provides value and how it is different or better than your competitors, one of two things will happen:

1. You’ll be forced to lower your price to win the business.

2. You’ll end up losing the opportunity.

Differentiators play a critical role in the middle stages of the buying cycle, when customers are evaluating available options. The right differentiators should map to your customers’ needs and influence their buying criteria. They should also be defensible. Rattling off reasons why you’re unique or better than your competition won’t get you very far, if you can’t show customer value.

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