With over five million salespeople in the United States alone, standing out from your competitors and being a step above the competition might seem like an elusive challenge. But not only can you do it, but you can also take immediate steps to make it happen! Today’s TSE blog takes our past September series, Standing Out from Competitors, to dive deeper into how we, as salespeople, can stand out from competitors to make the sale.
1. From the wise words of Donald Kelly: Be curious, be one step ahead, and be creative.
In Donald’s solo episode, he shared his three-step plan to stand out in sales, a tested strategy that works. While we’re not saying you have to reinvent the wheel, perhaps there can be some tweaks or a new spin that makes it more efficient, move faster, or be easier to produce. You’ll find a better solution or method of interaction than the competition if you constantly seek to raise the bar and deliver better service.
Remember that you don’t have to perfect your process overnight. Finding the proper process might take time. But staying determined (and, more importantly, utilizing feedback from clients and prospects) will help you develop new techniques and practices that keep you ahead.
2. Don’t work to create a message; create a message that works for you.
Tim Pollard explained the importance of message building, sharing an important concept: sure, you need to be able to explain your message (we hope that’s obvious.) But your letter will need to be explained in a second meeting where you aren’t present. Therefore, you need to craft a message that can be described without losing meaning or detail.
While that first meeting between you and a prospect is important, that second meeting is even more so; because it’s likely between a representative and the decision-maker (with whom you do not directly interact with.) What will make you stand out from the competition if that representative cannot explain your value and what you bring to the table? Crafting a message that shows your value while remaining simple enough to reexplain will help you stand out and win more deals. When preparing messaging for that initial prospect meeting, focus on making the message understandable for the people in the room and able to be explained to others once the session is concluded.
3. Understand your unique value proposition (and be able to explain it.)
Our previous guest Mark Harari explains the importance of identifying our unique values and contributions as a company or salesperson. Chances are, your product is incredibly similar to many other products, platforms, or services on the market. What sets you apart?
To both determine, understand, and then explain your unique value, understand the six parts of a successful positioning statement:
- Identify your target
- Identify their unmet need (which your service or product solves)
- Frame your competitors
- Find your point of difference: What makes you unique?
- Develop reasons to believe: Statements that empower and prove the point of difference.
- Foster brand personality
4. Utilize the power of the proposal.
You might wonder – how influential are proposals anymore? (Here’s a hint: they’re more powerful than you might think.) Kyle Racki explains that a bid isn’t just a series of words, terms, and figures; it’s a chance for you and your company to express the commitment and attention to detail you’ll put into your work. Consider adding images, video, and other non-text elements that frame the proposal to make it easier to skim. (Because, let’s be honest, how many people are reading a twenty-page proposal?
Understand that companies will sometimes accept the first proposal they get, regardless of the pricing or other offerings; there is simply a positive correlation between the speed of the proposal and the acceptance rate. So while you shouldn’t submit a proposal quickly at the expense of quality, you also need to keep in mind that the prospect could accept another before you send your own.
If possible, be present during the proposal review, whether physical or virtual. That way, you can advocate for yourself, answer questions, and address potential objections.
5. Speak the customer’s language.
It’s introductory psychology: people buy from people they like and like people similar to themselves. In our episode with Shaheem Alam, he explained the importance of speaking the customer’s language. As a salesperson, the product or service you sell is seldom to “generate more sales.” Determine the specific problem your address, and then capitalize on that. Don’t sell yourself the way everybody else does; find a way to be different.
6. Ask the tough questions.
After decades of experience selling, our past guest, Thomas Capraro, understands the importance of asking tough questions better than most. So what qualifies as a tricky question, you might wonder? Anything the typical salesperson might not want to bring up for fear of losing the client or prospect. (In particular, questions that might end a potential transaction.)
While it can seem daunting to explicitly ask the prospect their thoughts or opinions on your platform and how likely they are to purchase, understanding their thoughts and objections to your product will allow you to address (and potentially solve) those objections! Remember, people don’t buy from machines; they buy from people.
7. Know when to listen. (Hint: it’s most of the time.)
One of the most frustrating elements (as a buyer) is a salesperson who won’t take the time to listen to their problems. After all, how will the salesperson know which product or platforms will best address the problem, if at all? A salesperson who dominates the conversation is a salesperson who doesn’t want to help the client.
To stand out from the competition of salespeople, give your prospect a chance to elaborate on and describe their problems. Then, give them time to speak. While you might need to lead the conversation by asking questions, most of the discussion should focus on the prospect and what issues they encounter.
8. Think past the first solution.
Our past guest Ved Rasic learned firsthand how important it is to think past the first solution. If you sell in a crowded market with a lot of competition, that shows a demonstrated demand for your product.
However, because there are many other similar products or services, the traditional salesperson will try to emulate the successful competitor. But rather than copy what other people have done to be successful, we encourage you to get creative and find a way to position yourself differently. Especially for smaller businesses where the same salesperson interacts with the prospect throughout the entire sales cycle, you have a valuable opportunity to develop a deep relationship with your contact. You’ll have multiple touchpoints of interaction, giving you ample time and opportunity to think of a creative but practical deviation from what everyone else is doing.
Sales isn’t a cut-and-dry process; it involves being adaptable and thinking on your feet. But following these tips will help you stand out from the crowd of salespeople clamoring for sales and establish yourself as a salesperson who wants the prospect to succeed. Don’t be the salesperson who sells for the sale, be the salesperson who sells for the client success that inevitably follows.