Differentiate Yourself for the Win

Why is your business unique? The answer to that question should come to you quickly. It’s the most important question in sales—and in business in general—and you need to have the answer at your fingertips. If you don’t, you’re doing your business a disservice.

You're Selling a Solution Not a Product.

Customers buy products that help them solve important problems. So to sell—and to keep selling—to customers, entrepreneurs must position their product as the one that best resolves these problems. To do that, you need a clear understanding of what makes your product or service unique and the way in which it solves problems. Even if you’re a veteran entrepreneur, it’s worth taking the time to make sure you’ve got this right.

Focus On What Makes Your Business Different.

Peter Drucker, the father of business consulting, pointed to marketing and innovation as a business’ two basic functions. When you whittle down his ideas, they boil down to differentiation. To thrive and succeed, you need to zero in on your business’ unique strength, what sets it apart from competitors. And it needs to be one that’s significant enough to capture the majority of customers in your market. Your ultimate goal is for your customer to say “I choose you because there’s something about your product that I believe will help me better accomplish my goals.”

To do this, you first need a clear vision of your target customer. Narrowly define your customer and the problems you solve for him or her. To identify your ideal customer, look first look at demographics—their age, gender, location, and if they’re a company, the number of employees and annual revenue.

Think Psychographics.

Next, evaluate pain points. What challenges are your customers facing that you solve for—cutting costs, losing weight? And third, you must understand “psychographics,” or what mindset customers need to be in to buy your product or service. A customer with a growth mindset thinks they’re doing fine, but want to do better. One in a trouble mindset has a pressing problem or one on the horizon.

In sales, a growth mindset is good, but a trouble mindset is better. A sense of urgency lights a fire under potential clients and shortens the sales cycle. But don’t worry if you can’t make a trouble case; not every business can. You can still craft a compelling “trouble story” about how your product or service can make things better, and how, if the client doesn’t make a change, they’ll eventually see circumstances that are less than ideal. It’s your job to convince potential customers that working with you will make things better. Problems, or potential problems, that are seen as a priority can also help shorten the sales cycle, so you also need to answer the question of “why now?”

Act on Your Customers Pain Points.

Let’s take Amazon, for example. Customers need to receive products quickly; that’s their pain point. With Amazon Prime, the company guarantees delivery in a certain number of days. The company has solved the problem for customers of having to wait for a delivery. Amazon’s commitment to quick deliveries is how it differentiates itself.

It all comes down to knowing your customer. What are their problems and potential problems? What are the alternatives they have in solving the problem you’re solving for? Organizational leaders must always keep these questions top of mind. It’s how you’re going to win.