How Do You Differentiate In Sales? w/Lee Salz @Sales Architects
In this Sales Secrets episode, Lee Salz of Sales Architects reveals the sales strategy that will make you stand out to your clients.
In this article:
- About My Guest — Lee Salz of Sales Architects
- How to Differentiate in Sales: Don’t Say You’re the “Best”
- Sales Strategy: What Alternative Can Salespeople Use?
- What Is Sales Differentiation?
- Why You Shouldn’t Have Only One Elevator Pitch
- Sales Differentiation: What You Sell
- Salespeople Are the Solution Experts
- Sales Strategy: How to Improve Your Discovery Call
- Sales Strategy: How to Position Your Differentiators
- Sales Differentiation: How You Sell
How To Improve Your Sales Strategy Using Sales Differentiation
About My Guest — Lee Salz of Sales Architects
Lee Salz is a sales professional and the author of Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want. Currently, he is also the CEO of Sales Architects, a company that specializes in building a high-performance salesforce.
Salz is a recognized expert in the concept of sales differentiation. He is a consultant for senior executives across multiple industries, and he helps salespeople win more deals at the prices they want.
His book on sales differentiation received the silver medal for “2018 Book of the Year” from Top Sales World. Aside from being an author, Salz is also a columnist in The Business Journals.
How to Differentiate in Sales: Don’t Say You’re the “Best”
As we began the discussion, Salz introduced himself in a very interesting way. He started off by saying that he is the “best sales consultant in the world.”
Naturally, the immediate follow-up question was, what gave him the right to brand himself as such?
Salz revealed that that is the way most people respond when he says he’s the best sales consultant in the world. He asks them back, “Why do you think your clients feel any differently about you when you say that your company, products, and services are the best?”
He pressed on further and asked us why salespeople use the word “best.” The first reason is, salespeople want to build relationships.
Yet based on the reaction he gets every time he says he’s the best, Salz proved that using the word “best” doesn’t build relationships. Rather, it tarnishes them.
The second reason is, salespeople want to differentiate themselves. It’s also a given fact that no salesperson has ever promoted what they’re selling as less than “the best,” which is why you’ll still fail to differentiate yourself by using this word.
People may not regard salespersons as credible when they say they’re the best, but if their clients say it, it becomes meaningful. Clients have the credibility people from sales don’t have.
When they say a company, product, or service is the best, you can trust it. This is because they’re speaking based on their own experience — not because they’re selling.
Sales Strategy: What Alternative Can Salespeople Use?
Salz shared with us a sales strategy that can catch the client’s attention and differentiate a salesperson from the rest. He said that if you want to be different, you should start your sales call with this spiel:
“I’m not going to tell you that what I have to offer is the best. Instead, what I will do today is share some differences that our clients find meaningful. Then, you can decide for yourself if you find them meaningful as well.”
This is a refreshing sales strategy where you don’t have to harp on about being “the best.” It has the potential to diffuse the defense mechanism that consumers have when a salesperson first approaches them.
What Is Sales Differentiation?
You can apply the differentiation sales strategy both in marketing and sales. For Salz, marketing differentiation means building brand recognition and awareness.
Sales differentiation, on the other hand, takes all the capabilities and potential you can provide, and personalizes the experience.
Everyone buys for a different reason. Each person has their own drive and motivators when it comes to making a buying decision.
That’s why salespeople need to personalize the selling experience for each client. This means selling the features and benefits you’re offering based on what your client needs and wants.
He illustrated his point this way:
- Let’s say you have a copier machine business, and you’re about to launch the first copier that prints 50 shades of grey. You then need to meet with three different people within your organization and talk about this launch.
- Speaking to the CFO — When you speak to your CFO about the new copier, you don’t highlight its printing capability. CFOs don’t particularly care about that. What they want to know is how the new copier will impact the business financially.
- Speaking to the Marketing Manager — When you speak to your Marketing Manager about the same new copier, you can highlight its capability to print 50 shades of grey. This is because the Marketing Manager would want to know about the copier’s print quality.
- Speaking to the IT Manager — Lastly, when you meet with the IT Manager, they won’t care about the financial impact nor the print quality. What they want to know is how reliable and secure the new copier is, and how it will integrate with your other products.
You need to know how the same offer can address your clients’ different needs, so you can differentiate yourself and sell effectively.
Why You Shouldn’t Have Only One Elevator Pitch
Salz also advised salespeople to not limit themselves to a single elevator pitch. Having only one elevator pitch will restrict your ability to sell to different people.
Ideally, a salesperson should have one elevator pitch for each persona they deal with. This provides a personalized selling experience for each type of client they face because of its relevance.
You need to find ways to describe what you sell in a way that’s compelling to each decision influencer involved in your sale.
Sales Differentiation: What You Sell
Sales differentiation has two parts to it: what you sell and how you sell.
Lee meets with sales and executive teams, and he often finds that they are passionate about the differentiators they’ve identified. Their struggle is to help build that same passion in someone on the other side of the desk.
If you can’t do that, having differentiators doesn’t matter, because all roads lead to the price.
Lee shared with us his related experience working with a garbage truck company. The CEO talked to him and said that they believe they’re providing meaningful differences and value. That’s why they “shouldn’t have to fight over price.”
One of the company’s differentiators was a truck called “Can Be Clean.” Twice a year, this truck would follow the garbage truck and clean the residents’ garbage cans.
Although it’s a great concept, their salespeople struggled with how to have a conversation about it. As a solution, Lee and the company’s executives developed what he called the “positioning question.”
What is Positioning Question? This is an open-ended question that helps someone think about the solution they could have. As a sales strategy, the salespeople asked this question right after they’ve introduced themselves.
The question was: “When was the last time you had your garbage cans cleaned?” They asked this because they know the residents have never availed this service.
Salz’s client is the only one in Minnesota that offers this kind of service. The moment they ask that question to prospects, they help someone think differently about their garbage cans.
Salespeople Are the Solution Experts
Sales and marketing strategies often adapt to new technology. With all the changes we go through, salespeople can sometimes receive bad information.
For instance, because of the accessibility of information through the Internet, they’re told to be mindful of educated consumers. Yet the question Lee asks is: Who is an expert in the potential solutions within the industry—the salesperson or the customer?
Most people from sales would agree that the salesperson knows more than the customer, even with the Internet.
For this reason, it’s the salesperson’s obligation to help customers make informed buying decisions. It also opens an opportunity to help shape the criteria of buyer decision, because customers often don’t know how to buy what you’re selling.
Sales Strategy: How to Improve Your Discovery Call
As a sales strategy, salespeople often ask about the customer’s pain points during discovery calls. If you rely on that single sales strategy, you would never get to talk about your differentiators, such as the “Can Be Clean” service.
If the salesperson asked, “What are the three things that you don’t have that you would like to have today?” no one would say, “I’d love it if someone cleans my garbage cans,” because they don’t know that this kind of service exists.
Salespeople cannot simply rely on what customers perceive could be better or different. They need to help them see that there are opportunities.
It all comes back to the positioning questions—salespeople need to ask questions that will help customers see that there are opportunities to have something different and better. Ultimately, these positioning questions tie back to the products and services you offer.
Sales Strategy: How to Position Your Differentiators
The first step is to know what your differentiators are. Once you identify them, ask yourself, “Why does this even matter to a buyer?”
Salz said that salespeople often identify differentiators that aren’t meaningful to customers.
The few minutes you have with a customer are precious, so don’t talk about things that are meaningless to them. You need to determine why your differentiator is meaningful to a buyer.
Then, you have to identify which buyers you could have that particular conversation with.
Next, figure out what circumstances would interest your customers to talk about this particular topic. Note that this isn’t about a conversation that you want to have with them, but rather about a conversation they want to have with you.
Based on those, you can develop open-ended positioning questions. Through these, you can capture information that’s relevant to the differentiator you want to share.
Sales Differentiation: How You Sell
Every interaction you have with a buyer provides you with opportunities to be different and to give meaningful value.
Your biggest competitor is every salesperson trying to contact the same person you want to get a meeting with. Everyone who has a solution to sell to your target person is also calling them, which is why you need to be different right in that first interaction.
There is no denying that sales is a competitive industry. You can still stand out by using differentiators as your sales strategy. Lee Salz’s selling style may not be traditional, but applying it can produce the outcome you’re looking for.
Have you determined what your company’s differentiators are? How do you use them in your sales strategy? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.
- Asking Questions in Sales — What You Need to Know
- Sales Best Practices Every Sales Professional Should Know
- 3 Steps to Build Trust in 3 Minutes