Beating out your competitor for a big deal requires creating more value for your client, especially when your price is higher. One of the most effective ways to clarify that value is by teaching your client the difference between your model and your competitor’s model.
The Starting Line
For models to matter, you first must provide a consultative approach, one that creates the client’s preference to choose the conversation that benefits them more than conversations they’ve had— or will have— with other salespeople. If we were to score your ability here, we might call it your “sales effectiveness quotient.” The better you score, the more effectively you can explain your company’s model and show why it’s your client’s best choice.
As a modern B2B salesperson, you are often the largest part of the value proposition, perhaps more now than at any other time. One of the things that makes you valuable is your ability to help your contacts make the best decision possible, so they can solve their problems and improve their results. That’s where differentiating your model comes in.
Don’t Say Bad Things About Your Competition
In Eat Their Lunch: Winning Customers Away from Your Competition, I offered some talk tracks for talking about your competitor in positive terms. Some were surprised by that advice, as it seems more logical to tear down the competition. But speaking poorly of your competitor only makes you look bad, and in a lot of cases, it causes your prospective client to feel the need to defend them, especially when they previously chose your competitor. More to the point, it’s a great way to explain the differences between your respective models.
When you compare models, you are not talking about your competitors. Instead, you are explaining that different companies have different approaches to creating value for their clients.
One company may have a business model designed to produce a lower price than the competition, a strategy that is designed to appeal to those who need a low-priced option. Their competitor might have a very different model, one built on higher care, higher touch, and greater value creation. They cannot afford to deliver that value without charging the high price necessary to deliver better results and a better experience.
A company that needs a lower price may want to buy from the company with the higher price, but because they can’t invest much, they have to choose a lower-priced option (something that might actually cost more in the end). But a company that needs their partner to create greater value is going to be disappointed with a low-priced option, so they’re likely to switch to a new supplier.
How to Explain the Models
Your contacts may believe that because you and your competitors both sell the same thing, there is little or no difference between your companies. And let’s be honest: in a lot of cases, you could easily swap your company’s pitch deck for your competitor’s without much of a struggle.
Differentiating means explaining all the things you do differently, why you make different choices, and how it benefits your clients. Two factors loom large in these discussions. The first is your ability to justify the delta, the difference between your price and your competition’s price. The second is the concessions your client will be forced to make when they choose a different model.
When you are justifying the delta, you might start by sharing the investments you make that your competitor avoids making. Many industries feature multiple successful models. Apple, for instance, charges more for a computer than Dell. They use different materials, different aesthetics, different operating systems, and different software. Some companies are happy to pay more for Apple, while Dell meets others’ needs.
To differentiate your model, you have to tie your investments to the outcome your client needs, by showing why that investment is necessary and how it relates to the better results you are promising to deliver.
Justifying the delta is one way to explain the difference between your model and a competitor’s. The other way is to explain the concessions your client is going to make— sometimes without realizing it— when they choose a competing model.
To make an easy contrast here, imagine a company that invests more in the employees they provide to manage their client’s business, something we might describe as a strategic account management approach. The team spends a lot of time on their client’s site and manages most everything for them. Their competitor’s cheaper model instead provides a toll-free customer service line to address clients’ questions or concerns.
The first model creates more value, but it’s best suited for clients who need that hands-on help and better results. Clients who don’t need those outcomes are going to be better served by the lower-priced offering.
Whatever the specifics, you must be able to describe your model and contrast it with your competition’s model. Your goal is to share what makes your company unique, why you make certain key investments, and how those choices let you produce better value for your clients.
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