Why should customers buy from you instead of your competitors? That’s the question at the heart of making a sale in a competitive market, says Matt Dixon, Global Head of Sales Force Effectiveness for Korn Ferry. It’s a hard question to answer without resorting to vague, feel-good qualities such as “we’re more innovative/customer-centric/socially responsible” and so on. Any company might say the same thing, and these descriptors are about your process, not about a specific feature of your product that makes it the one worth buying. In his Big Think+ lesson, “Selling with Insight: Create a Need that Your Client has Overlooked,” Dixon explains how to identify your product’s genuine strengths and lead clients to the conclusion that it alone can meet their needs.
A three-ring Venn diagram
In his video, Dixon says the process starts with pinpointing your strongest feature(s) by constructing a Venn diagram.
In one circle, write all the things that make your product credibly and realistically unique. In a second circle write all the things that you feel make your competitor’s product unique. Where the two circles overlap, there will inevitably be features common to both.
Above the two circles, create a circle that contains what the customer is looking for. There will likely be an overlap between what the client wants and the features that both you and your competitors offer — this shows areas of “competitive parity” that contain the features the client can get from either you or your competitors.
Your opportunity lies in the section to the left of that, the area containing the features unique to your product that line up with what the client is seeking.
Communicating the value of your exclusive features
Once you know what makes your product special, you may find yourself asking, says Dixon, “If it’s so unique, if it’s so valuable, why isn’t there a line around the block of customers willing to pay us for that unique capability, that unique differentiator?” Yes, you’ve got this advantage, but “what would have to be true in the customer’s world for them to be willing to pay us for our unique benefit, our unique differentiator?” Spend some time developing a deeper understanding of the client’s needs today and do some research as to where their business is heading. If your differentiating features genuinely offer something of value to the customer, you’re halfway there.
You may find yourself in a situation, says Dixon, where your product solves a problem your customer isn’t aware they have. “Maybe it’s an unseen need or an under-appreciated need,” he suggests, “…that’s where the insight comes in — the idea of disrupting the way the client thinks about their world.” He adds, “Maybe you know it’s truly valuable to the customer, but they don’t yet see it, so you have to demonstrate that, you have to get them to understand why it’s so important that they see their business this way.”
With this shift in perspective your product stands alone as being the only one that can meet the client’s needs, you’ll have boxed out the competition, and you’ll have made your sale.