Selling as a Competitive Advantage in a Crowd

Selling as a Competitive Advantage in a Crowd
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Does Selling as a Competitive Advantage Make Sense for Your Company?

Perhaps the most powerful attribute of a good strategic plan is how the company plans to distinguish itself from the competition in a way that is not easily replaced or replicated.  With the pace of change and disruption today, it is certainly not easy to get ahead and clearly differentiate yourself.

For those struggling with how to stand apart from the pack, the encouraging news is that Gartner Research reports that over 50 percent of customer loyalty is driven by how you sell — more than the impact of your brand, product, service, and price combined.   Wow.

The even better news is that how you sell (your sales experience) is the one thing your company can still design, improve, measure, and control in a way that is difficult to replicate or replace. This creates a wonderful opportunity for sales driven companies to use selling as a formidable competitive advantage for growth and profitability.

The Sales Challenge
Let’s start with the current state of sales.  Even though U.S. companies report spending over $15 billion each year on business sales training and sales management training, most sales reps are struggling.  A recent Selling Power survey found that only:

  • 6% of sales teams achieved or exceeded quota in the last 24 months
  • 8% of sales leaders believe that their salespeople have a consistently healthy sales pipeline

Combine that with the sobering fact that buyers report that over three-quarters of solution sellers do not clearly understand their key issues, are unclear how they can add meaningful value, and are not well prepared to answer questions or to share relevant case studies to substantiate what sets them apart.

That sounds like a wonderful untapped opportunity to strategically invest in selling as a competitive advantage that is hard to replace or replicate.

Steps to Use Selling as a Competitive Advantage

  1. Create Strategic Sales Clarity
    It is almost impossible to use selling as a competitive advantage if the very essence of your sales strategy is not clear enough, not believable enough, or not implementable enough in the eyes of your leadership or sales team. It is hard enough to change sales skills and behaviors.

    It is almost impossible if everyone is not on the same page in terms of target clients, value proposition, and the critical few strategies to meet your objectives.

    Is your sales strategy clear enough?

  2. Design a Healthy, High Performing, and Aligned Sales Culture
    Think of your sales culture as how sales-related things really get done — the way salespeople think, behave, and act. Our organizational alignment research found cultural factors account for up to 40% of the difference between high- and low-growth companies.

    Before you embark on sales skills or sales product training, first make sure that your sales team is healthy and engaged enough to want to take their performance to the next level.  Then make sure that the way your sales team measures, communicates, and rewards performance is fair, accurate, meaningful, and aligned.

    Lastly make sure that the way your sales and service teams treat customers, make decisions, view risk, create loyalty, go to market, and get results aligns with your business and sales growth strategy.

    Is your sales culture helping or hindering your growth strategy?

  3. Teach Your Sales Team How to Sell Solutions
    Product sales is about the features and benefits – what your product does, how it is built, and how it compares to alternatives in the marketplace. Solution sales is about how your organization’s capabilities solve a pressing customer problem or achieve an important customer strategic objective better, faster, or cheaper than the alternatives.

    If you want use selling as a competitive advantage your sales team must have the experience, knowledge, attitude, and business acumen to:

    — Identify what matters most to your target buyers.

    — Link your offering to their most pressing needs.

    — Articulate how you can help them to succeed better than anyone else in a way they can understand.

    Can your sales team consistently position and sell complex solutions to your target buyers in a way that makes sense?

  4. Model, Reward, and Reinforce the New Sales Skills and Behaviors
    Based upon over 800 sales training measurement projects, we know that sales training without the proper reinforcement only changes the behavior of 1-in-5 sales reps. To ensure that new sales knowledge, skills, and attitudes transfer to the job, you must invest in:

    Sales Support Resources
    Make sure your sales teams have the necessary time, information, tools, technology, supporting sales processes, and structures to sell in a differentiated way.

    Sales Reinforcement
    Make sure you provide and align sales success metrics, incentives, consequences and recognition with the newly desired sales skills and behaviors.

    Sales Coaching
    Our research shows that sales reps who receive frequent sales coaching outperform their peers 4-to-1.  Invest in sales coaching if you do not want your sales training investment to waste away.

The Bottom Line
In a buyer-driven world, sales organizations need to adapt and sell differently if they want to remain relevant.  But if you truly want your team to sell in a way that differentiates you from the competition, you and your team must align your sales strategy, culture, and talent in a way that sets you apart from the pack.

To learn more about how to use selling as a competitive advantage, download Unique Value Proposition – Are You Setting Yourself Apart from the Competition?

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