Monday, May 10, 2010

 

How to avoid commoditizing yourself

Do some of your customers and prospects treat you like a commodity? If they do, you're likely competing on price far more than you'd like.

Companies and industries that slide into commoditization almost always have a better option. There's always a way to identify, quantify and communicate significant incremental value and results for your clients that your competitors fail to do.

Part of this is in how you approach the customer in the first place. Many sales organizations use the same approach, the same pitch, the same presentation with every prospective customer. Problem is, if you're genericizing your pitch, it's likely going to look very similar to what your competitors are presenting as well. And if they look the same, it's even easier for customers to treat you like a commodity.

Jeff Thull writes about this in Mastering the Complex Sale, under the headline "If You Commoditize Your Customers, They Will Commoditize You." He continues:

When you target customers based on generic qualifications that may or may not actually characterize their companies and situations, you are guilty of treating them exactly the same way that so many salespeople complain that they and their solutions are treated - like commodities. To avoid this trap, you must create an engagement strategy that customers believe could not have been crafted for any other person but themselves.

There's extra work required here with each new prospect, but the result is highly differentiating. And if you can demonstrate value in a way few others are doing, and in a way that clarifies the specific, expected results prospects will achieve by choosing you, you'll have a much clearer path to justifying premium prices.

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