We Want to be Different – Not a Commodity! Five Important Steps

Situation:  The Company has had success with a few large clients but wants to expand their customer base for long-term growth. How do they differentiate their products in what is perceived as a commodity market?

Advice of the CEOs:

  • One company created differentiation by getting to know everyone in the business – building long term relationships, based on reputation and trust.
    • They spent time up front understanding the needs of customers that they wanted to develop.
    • As opportunities arose, they built relationships and asked questions to clearly define client needs.
    • While it takes time and patience, the objective is to be able to say “We know your business” – with credibility.
  • The steps:
    • Study the business, sector, and customers that you wish to serve.
    • Leverage the success that you have had with large customers. Talk about how you helped subunits within your large customers. This makes a big customer seem more like a collection of small customers similar to your prospects and makes your experience relevant.
    • Let prospective customers know, when appropriate to the situation, that you are hungry and will go the extra mile for their business. Simply out-serve your competition.
    • Learn who currently serves your prospective clientele. Study these competitors, their strengths and weaknesses. Talk to their customers – learn what they love about competitors’ service, and what they would like to see changed. Find the holes in what they provide and fill these holes with a better offer.
    • Look for and encourage repeat business and references to new business.

Key Words: Commodity, Differentiation, Sales, Marketing, Business Development, Customer Needs, Competition

2 thoughts on “We Want to be Different – Not a Commodity! Five Important Steps

  1. Lisa Nirell

    These high level strategies are generally helpful. I must disagree with telling prospects that I’m hungry for their business, and willing to go the extra mile.
    This attitude automatically destroys the chances of developing a peer relationship.
    Every client should expect you to serve them to the best of your ability.In today’s world, that is the admission price for doing business.
    In my early selling years, asking for the business because I was hungry and needed to make my numbers backfired. Every time.

    Lisa Nirell
    Author, “EnergizeGrowth NOW: The Marketing Guide to a Wealthy Company”

  2. Sandy Post author

    Thanks, Lisa.
    It’s good to hear from you.
    The particular piece of advice that you cite needs to be considered in the context of the broader conversation. The CEO who offered this advice also follows the other guidelines suggested by his peers, and his comment is based on his experience of what works in his marketplace – a niche high tech hardware developer who serves clients many times the size of his company. Also, his contacts are not C-level, but engineers and their managers – with whom he and his salespeople have excellent relationships. This tactic has worked well for him over the years, so he offered it for consideration.

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