What You Sell Is NOT a Commodity! (A Laxative for Pipeline Constipation)

Become a better sales coach and sales manager today.

How often do you feel you lose a sale to your competition because of price or budget? What if your belief around your product is actually creating the very objections you hear, which are sabotaging your sales? If you think your product is a commodity, think again. Here’s an opportunity for you to reinvent and reconnect with your product and service in a new way.

8-Steps to Creating a Coaching Culture by Keith Rosen
I hear this all the time. “But my product is a commodity. How do you expect me to sell against my competition, especially when our prices are higher. Since my competition delivers the same solutions as us, it all comes down to price. Sure, I have a bunch of opportunities in the pipeline but there’s nothing I can do to move them along.”

Well, if this was the case, then why is there always that salesperson on the team who’s able to meet or exceed their sales targets, year after year, in a highly competitive marketplace, especially when they aren’t the least expensive option?

Break Through the Sales Myopia

Because that salesperson realizes there is the:

  1. Art to selling (co-creating new solutions with customers and uncovering needs they did not know they had.)
  2. Science to selling (the sales process, metrics, strategy, success formula, etc.)
  3. Skill of selling (best practices, core competencies)
  4. Language of selling (the message you deliver in your communication.)

If you’re looking for some rock solid tips on how to refine your approach and develop a compelling message that will provide you with a unique competitive edge and motivate someone to talk to you, let alone buy from you, check out this article here. This is your opportunity to get super-creative so that you can reinvent and re-position what you sell in a much more powerful way.

Especially when it comes to your message, rather than ‘winging it,’ top salespeople take the time to craft their message (voice mail, email, presentation, compelling case, responses to objections, etc.), identify their competitive advantage and uncover how they can deliver more value and better service than their competition. These sales champions are able to communicate the MVP (Most Valuable Proposition) that makes them unique in the eyes of their prospects and customers, using compelling statements that immediately grab their target audience’s attention. By taking the time to craft their differentiating strategy, these sales professionals certainly do not believe their product or service is a commodity.

So, can you look in the mirror and honestly say that you have developed your approach and message to achieve these results?

The fact is, we are our own worst enemy. We are our only true competitor. Creating a new and better outcome starts with reconnecting with your product or service in a whole new way. And this can only happen when you’re ready to make the choice to get yourself and your self-limiting thinking out of your own way. Here are some examples of the type of thinking that certainly doesn’t serve, you, your company and especially, your customers.

  • We manufacture the exact same product as our competition.
  • We are the distributors of the same product that our competitors sell.
  • I’m a (consultant, coach, accountant, attorney, etc.) providing the same service as everyone else.
  • When we respond to an RFP, all the company cares about is the price.
  • As a reseller, I am offering the same solutions that every other reseller is providing.
  • All we get to do is quote the price. That’s the only thing that our customers and prospects request; a quote.

What’s the one common, yet unique, differentiating factor in all of these excuses, I mean, examples? YOU! And you get to choose how to respond to these requests in a different, more innovative way.

Here’s another article I wrote that provides greater insight around how you can leverage your greatest competitor to your advantage.

Shift the Way You Think to Create a Greater Outcome

The best salespeople are not only are the strongest communicators, ask the challenging questions and are consistent around engaging in the revenue generating activities they need to in order to achieve their business objectives – but they also think differently.

They have re-wired themselves to think like true champions and, as such, act accordingly. They believe what they sell is unique because they are unique! Said a different way, if you are ultimately the product, and you believe your product is a commodity, then do you believe that you are a commodity as well? I certainly hope not. In essence, the right attitude and selling strategy is exactly what makes you stand out from the crowd of competition and in turn, clearly differentiates your product and service, providing you with the edge you need. Therefore, saying your product is a commodity is like saying you’re a commodity – and you’re NOT! Without this champion mindset, even the best intentions and selling efforts become futile.

Once salespeople and sales leaders shift the way they think, and once managers start coaching their direct reports to do the same, the byproduct is then a change in behavior. This is why beliefs always precede experience.

I’ve written two other articles that illustrate the power of choice, especially when it comes to how you think. One article is about making confidence a choice and the other article details the danger of selling the way you buy.

You Cannot Grow with What You Already Know

I have a saying, “You cannot grow beyond what you think is possible for yourself.” This holds true for every human being on the planet.

When it comes to salespeople, if you have placed a limiting belief around your self-worth and on what you sell, then you have also, by default, placed a self-imposed cap on your income and success.

Hey, it’s easy to blame the company, the economy, the marketplace and your customers for all the reasons why you can’t reach your goals and achieve your sales targets. But we all know this doesn’t serve you or anyone else. It takes a conscious effort, some time and a whole lot of creativity to re-craft your sales methodology and approach so that you can reposition yourself and your offering in a whole new and exciting way.

Avoid the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

The problem is, many of us are caught up in a viscous and unproductive cycle in our thinking. We often take our past experiences and project them into the future where it becomes an expectation, ultimately creating this self-fulfilling prophecy, without taking the time to assess every situation as its own unique experience. I see salespeople do this when it comes to judging their customers. (“All my customers care about is price.”) Even managers are guilty of doing this when judging their direct reports. (“They’re lazy. They’re always looking for the easy way out. If only they were coachable, they would be able to turn their performance around but they won’t listen to me. They need to be more accountable and open to change.”)

This illustrates the consequence of the “Already Thinking- Already Been There” mentality. That is, making costly assumptions about the situation, person or even the end result based on their past experiences. So, instead of trying a new approach and creating a new possibility, they rely on their assumptions to be true, without collecting the evidence and facts to support their belief. And if you’re passing judgment or making assumptions, then you’re no longer listening. You’ve also stopped asking the right questions because you believe you already know the facts.

Consequently, you’ve replaced the facts with what you believe to be true (assumptions), based upon your experiences. To break this detrimental cycle, you first need to get your head out of your assumptions!

Get Out of Your Own Head

Making assumptions around your direct reports, your customers, your company, your product or service, how unique it is in the marketplace, how to sell, how your customers like to buy, what the real objections are, why you even lost or won a sale without gathering the evidence and facts prevents you from learning, growing and reinforcing best practices. Identifying, challenging and eliminating toxic, non-productive sales beliefs and assumptions, especially the assumption that your product is a commodity, is just as important as adopting new, beneficial and productive sales beliefs.

While it’s often necessary to rely on our experiences to learn from them, it is when we cement our experiences as the ultimate truth that creates a blind eye when trying to create new selling opportunities.

One of the greatest tools we have at our disposal is our curiosity when we sell. If you are someone who is intensely curious and doesn’t believe that the past has to equal the future, then by default, you’re going to ask more and better questions to gather the facts you need that will either validate or invalidate your assumptions!

So, is your product truly a commodity? Yes and No. It all begins with how you think it is. We know that perception is reality but what we often don’t realize is that the perception that your customers have of your product and service starts with you. That’s the answer to eradicate pipeline constipation and creating more selling opportunities. After all, if this wasn’t true, then companies wouldn’t spend millions of dollars each year on branding and positioning.

Here’s a Four Step Solution to Reinventing Your Message—and You

How do you start this process of re-invention? You can start by taking out a piece of paper or opening up a blank document and make four columns.

  1. In the first column, you are going to break down your entire sales strategy. This will include everything from prospecting, presenting, delivering a proposal, follow up, customer service, account management; all the way to how you close a sale. I would also suggest writing out all of the objections you hear from customers that prevent you from earning their business.
  2. In the second column, you’re going to write out HOW you execute on that strategy and most important, WHAT you say, your message.
  3. In the third column, write out what your competition is currently doing and saying. You’ll probably see many similarities to how you handle your own sales process. And that’s the point! It’s time to create your competitive distinction!
  4. Finally, the magic will happen in the fourth column. It’s time to get creative. This is where you get to reinvent your strategy, approach and message.

Is this going to be easy? Not at all. And it’s going to take some time. I’d even suggest doing this as a team exercise so that you can tap into the innovation and creativity of your entire team.

It’s Your Superbowl

Think of it this way. If you’re running a race or training for a big game, what takes longer; the practice, mental and physical preparation and training for the event or the event itself? Think of this in terms of a meeting with a customer or prospect. How long does that meeting actually last? Now, think about how long it takes for someone to become a consummate sales champion?

This is in your power, so don’t surrender your personal power so quickly. Remember, how you position your brand through your eyes and in the eyes of your customer is ultimately, your choice.

Photo Credit: PhotoSky (via Shutterstock)