Successful salespeople are often experts at differentiating themselves from the competition. This isn’t a coincidence. It’s vital because if the prospect has no way of differentiating between sales people, they’ll default to their tried and true method, price. Poor and mediocre salespeople are the ones that cut their price and try to low ball a deal. Successful sales professionals avoid the situation and when circumstances place them in that battle, they usually walk away. So as a rule of thumb, if the competition is doing it, do something else.
This rule applies outside of sales as well. There is never a shortage of people who will rush to knock off a good idea. When an innovator proves that their idea is successful, there is a rush of hangers-on that look to do it faster or cheaper. The better the idea, the more emulators there will be. However, true innovators always thrive because while the copycats swarm, they are moving on to the next big thing. The sales profession has largely been recycling itself for 50 years. The sales strategies and tactics of half a century ago were so innovative and successful that it has spawned half a century of copycats. The problem is the well is starting to run dry, everyone is doing the same thing. Sales rules have become clichés: always be closing, handle objections, don’t take no for an answer, feature and benefit, etc. While there is value in all these things they have become overused and largely irrelevant. Sales people “make these moves” because they’ve been t old to, not because they understand the intention behind them. In many cases, that has warped the strategy into something underhanded or manipulative. Don’t get caught in the swarm of copycats, be unique, be an innovator.
So what does this really mean? The problem is that can vary greatly by individual. For starters, learn traditional sales strategies but don’t wholeheartedly adopt them. Understand the intention behind the tactics and be critical of things that simply no longer apply. It’s not that they weren’t good ideas at the time, its just that too many emulators have ruined their usefulness. Then focus on your company and industry and some of the things you have the power to change. What are the deficiencies in the market and can you make that a strategic advantage in the sales process? What are other salespeople saying and doing that could be a turn off for prospects and clients? How can you behave to differentiate yourself from the swarm of emulative salespeople? If you find good answers to some of these questions, you’re sales will rise. People don’t grow tired of innovators, they look to them for guidance. If the competition is doing it, stop doing it, act differently and show your clients and prospects that you’re the innovator they want to work with.
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