Summary: Sales Differentiation By Lee B. Salz
Summary: Sales Differentiation By Lee B. Salz

Summary: Sales Differentiation By Lee B. Salz

The Best Sales Consultant in the World

Do you know one person in the world who can say “best” and buyers listen to the word as gospel? That person is someone you know. Actually, you know that person very well: That person is your client.

When clients describe your company and its products as “the best,” buyers pay attention because it’s believable. That’s why you get referrals. That’s also why buyers invest the time to talk with your references.


Position meaningful differentiation so buyers perceive your solution is “best”—without you saying the word.


Differentiation Is Marketing’s Responsibility, Isn’t It?

One of the true tests of whether or not your sales differentiation strategy is working is if your buyer asks you to match a price from your competitor. Every time you hear that request, you know the strategy failed because the buyer sees no meaningful difference between you and the competition.


Sales differentiation converts buyer intrigue into buyer action to win more deals at the prices you want.


The Root Cause of a Salesperson’s Frustration

The word “unique” means you are the only one in the world to possess a certain quality or aspect. The word “different” is used to denote a comparison to something like a buyer’s current solution or the incumbent provider. The good news is that uniqueness is not a requirement for an effective sales differentiation strategy. Uniqueness is not needed at all to win more deals at the prices you want.


Sales differentiation is not about being unique, but rather being different, relative to other buyer options.


What Would You Pay for Something You Could Get for Free?

Look at any parking lot. What do you notice about the cars parked in it? No two of them are exactly alike. At their core, each car has a seat, steering wheel, gas pedal, brakes, roof, and doors. Any car you buy is guaranteed to come with those things included in it.

Yet, most people spend more than the minimum required to own the car they want. They make buying decisions for a wide array of reasons beyond the core. All because people are willing to spend more money for what they perceive to be meaningful value.


Buyers will pay more for differentiated solutions that they perceive offer meaningful value.


Finding Your Differentiators

When a buyer sees all decision aspects as equal, price becomes the ultimate decision factor. For most salespeople, that factor is the kiss of death for the sale because what he is selling isn’t the cheapest option. Here are the six components of the Sales Differentiation Universe:



Price is the ultimate decision factor in the absence of differentiation.


Who Cares About Your Differentiators?

Based on what is keeping each Decision Influencer (DI) up at night, position the relevant differentiators you possess in elevator stories. Notice the use of the word “relevant” before differentiators. For each differentiator you plan to align with a DI, make sure it is one that will resonate with that person.

Imagine you’re selling a copier machine. For the CFO, this is the set of differentiators that are financial in nature. The print quality and speed differentiators are the ones to position with the marketing manager. The IT network manager hears about the technology differentiators.


Not all differentiators matter to all Decision Influencers or in all circumstances.


Are You Leaving Differentiation Open to Buyer Interpretation?

If you leave defining differentiator meaning to your DIs, you will get one of two results. Either they will never figure out why it matters, or they will give it a meaning that you aren’t going to like. On their own, Decision Influencers will never give a differentiator context that is advantageous to you. If you leave setting differentiator context to them, you will lose.


Sales differentiation requires the salesperson to position why it matters to the buyer.


Whose Fault Is It When a Buyer Doesn’t See Your Differentiated Value?

It’s never the DI’s fault when he doesn’t see a material difference to justify a higher price. It’s yours.


The ownership of a buyer perceiving differentiation resides with you, the salesperson.


Differentiating Through Your Selling Approach

Every phase of the sales process presents the opportunity to create meaningful differentiation.


HOW you sell, not just WHAT you sell, differentiates you.


Aligning Your Sales Differentiation Strategy with Decision Influencers

Consider the challenges frustrating your Decision Influencers and the ways in which you can solve them effectively.


Sales differentiation is not limited by product attributes, but rather by the solutions that can be innovated to address buyer challenges.


Developing a Sales Crime Theory

Imagine you are reading the current issue of your local Business Journal. You come across an interview with the CEO at XYZ Manufacturers. During the interview, the CEO shares his initiative for next year, which is to make his company more efficient and reduce costs. The efficiency and cost reduction initiatives provide you with Sales Crime Theory evidence. If WHAT you sell addresses those two points, you have what you need to connect the evidence to your solution and formulate a Sales Crime Theory that is communicated in HOW you sell.


A Sales Crime Theory differentiates you by answering this question: Why should this buyer want to talk with you right now?


The Most Important Sales Differentiation Tool

There are two words that are pervasive in the sales profession and deeply engrained in the English language. Commonly used to start sentences, these two words are guaranteed to turn buyers off. Those two words are: “I want.”

When buyers hear “I want,” they immediately think, “Of course. You want to sell me something and get a commission.” How can you build a relationship and sell to someone who feels this way about you? You can’t.

Rule of thumb: There is only one person in the world, other than you, who cares what you want. It’s Mom! No one else cares what you want.

Most salespeople don’t use this word enough. It’s a word that can differentiate HOW you sell. It’s the word “help.” Help is viewed positively by most DIs. To illustrate, “We help customer service managers improve the effectiveness of their teams”.


The words salespeople use, and do not use, differentiate them.


The Art of Query to Position Differentiators

Challenge questions help you assess aspects a buyer perceives could be better or different.

  • If there were one area of the program that could be better, what would it be?
  • What are some of the challenges you’ve had with the program?

Unlike challenge questions, positioning questions expose areas that a buyer does not perceive could be better or different.

  • “If you got chocolate on your arm, how would you clean it off?”
  • “When you’ve lost the combination for your padlock (because we all have), what did you do with the lock?”


It’s not what salespeople say to buyers, but rather what they ask of buyers, that differentiates them from the competition.


Shaping Buyer Decision Criteria

There’s the business that happens to you and the business that you make happen.” Never forget that you have a greater knowledge of the possible solutions than they do.


Sales differentiation affords you the opportunity to shape buyer decision criteria.


Disrupting the Buying Process Through Sales Differentiation

Many salespeople think they have two options when they receive a Request for Proposal (RFP). One is to respond to it. The other is to toss it in the trash. Few realize they have a third option which can also differentiate them through HOW you sell. What if you called the procurement agent and had a conversation?

Asking an effective mix of challenge and positioning questions when receiving an RFP differentiate HOW you sell, as you’ve demonstrated expertise and care while also showing that your company is not desperate for the deal.


Sales differentiation enables buying process disruption.


Buyer Objections: An Opportunity for Sales Differentiation

By proactively addressing the pricing question, you have the opportunity to demonstrate expertise and differentiate yourself in HOW you sell.


Differentiate yourself by addressing buyer concerns before they arise.


Last Chance to Differentiate with Your Buyer

Remember the one person who can say “best” and the other buyers will listen to the word. That person is your client.


The request for references is your last chance to differentiate with a buyer. Don’t miss it.


Keeping the Strategy Fresh

Every industry goes through changes. Not some, all of them do! No industry is immune. What people buy. How people buy. Why people buy. Which people buy. When people buy. The answers are evolutionary, which means your sales differentiation strategy needs to evolve as well.


Sales differentiation is a moment in time, not a permanent state.


The Irrefutable Differentiator

Salespeople who don’t genuinely care about their clients aren’t long for the sales profession. Few put pen to paper and provide that personal touch that shows they care.

Between being genuine and helping them with other aspects of the business, you can create a meaningful value that differentiate you from the competition.


The irrefutable differentiator is YOU . . . make it invaluable.