Monday, April 22, 2024

How to identify the right product differentiator to boost marketing and sales success

One of the biggest challenges for today’s seller is helping their buyer understand their product or service’s differentiator — in other words, what makes it  better than others that walk, talk, look and act like it.

None of us wishes for our solutions to be thought of as an imitator or second-best. We want our business to be in the forefront of our target buyer’s mind — our products or services gaining an unfair share™ of the market.

Think about your solution from a buyer’s perspective. When you are offered an option between yours and a competitor’s solution, what makes them different — truly different? Why will one perform better than the other? What makes one more valuable than the other? How does one serve you and your specific needs better?

Surely you have the answers about your own solution, but does your buyer?

Today’s B2B buyer is more empowered than ever before. They research your solutions deeper and seek a variety of options. Fifty-seven percent of the buyer’s journey is completed before the buyer talks to sales (Corporate Executive Board).

While many sales and marketing leaders believe their company’s product or service is clearly differentiated, their key selling proposition may not be as obvious to those on the outside. And what some brands say differentiates their solutions may not make them as different — or compelling —to the specific buyer as they think.

In order to ensure buyers understand how your solution is different from others, you have to determine the key differentiators. These already exist, but it is a matter of crystalizing the most compelling differentiator for your solution and your buyer.

  1. Differentiator 1: Unique
    If your product offers a solution like no one has ever seen — bingo. You have a jumpstart on differentiation. Do not fret if your solution is not completely unique. Dig for that one thing about it that is truly different. Perhaps your business model increases your unique factor. Or a specific capability or your packaging or distribution channel. Dig deep and find that one thing that makes your product truly different from your competitions’.
  2. Differentiator 2: Valuable
    Remember to focus on your target buyer, because your solution will not and should not deliver compelling outcomes for everyone. Why is your solution perfect for this buyer? What pains does it solve? How does it serve them?
    Consider if the value you provide is more than the price you charge. If it is, and if that value is obvious to your target, then your buyer will more readily opt for your solution over a competitive alternative.
  3. Differentiator 3: Provable
    Once you have pinpointed your business’ value proposition and unique selling proposition, you need to provide your buyer with the proof. This can be done in a number of ways. Maybe you have client value stories you can share with your buyer — or testimonials that tout your value and uniqueness. Or maybe you can let your buyer demo your product or service to see the proof for themselves. Regardless, without proving to your buyer that your product or service would truly be better for their needs, you will fail to convert leads to sales.
  4. Differentiator 4: Memorable
    Quickly — name a soft drink. Now name a fast food restaurant. Now a luxury car brand. These brands you just thought of have done something right — they have become memorable to you. Because there are dozens of soft drink choices and numerous fast food restaurants and a handful of luxury cars. But you thought of those three brands first, before the rest. How can you ensure your target market recalls your solution before others?
    Being memorable starts with relevant and consistent messaging that speaks to your buyer. Try to employ storytelling elements or let them know you understand their pains. And depending on your solution, make sure your message and values serve your target audience at every stage of the buying journey — from your website to any printed materials to actually interfacing with your employees and solution. I will reiterate again, consistency is important here, so your buyers come to know you and trust you.

Once you determine the compelling attributes that make your solution different from others, you must ensure you are communicating it well to your buyer.

  1. Help your salespeople understand what makes your solution different. Brief them on the right words, the compelling propositions, the key message points, and then role-play with them so they are better prepared to engage in meaningful conversations that enforce what your solution can do for the buyer and why no other alternatives can help them achieve outcomes like yours.
  2. Bring your marketing, sales and products teams together to the table. Align them on your differentiation strategy and make sure it is reflected in every communications piece. And even better, bring everyone into discussions when you are determining the key factors that make your solution different. When everyone agrees what makes the product or solution different, you will avoid confusion internally and externally.
  3. Confirm your differentiators matter to your buyer. After you have established what makes your solution different, test the messaging with your target buyer. See if the differentiators resonate with them and help them better understand your solution against others. If you have done your job well, your buyer will be able to separate you from others as easily as B2C buyers can differentiate Whole Foods from Wal-Mart.

You have differentiation. Lock it down, own it, and use it to connect to and stand out with your buyer. Contact us if you want to continue the dialogue about how you can gain your unfair share™.


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Jay Mitchell
Jay Mitchell
Mitchell is an accomplished entrepreneur and sales and marketing thought leader, who has invested the past 20+ years investing in the revenue performance of market leaders worldwide including Ariba, Pitney Bowes, Accel-KKR, Ace Hardware, SuccessFactors, Miller Heiman, AlixPartners, SAP and many more. He has served in a variety of roles during his career including President, CEO, CMO, board member and investor to over 150 innovative champions. As Mereo’s founder and president, Jay brings a passion for helping companies align their marketing and sales infrastructure. With a heart for serving clients, Jay's others-focused values are inspiring to his clients and peers alike – as reflected in Mereo’s purpose: Seek to Serve, Not to Sell™.