Strategic Human Capital Insights

Differentiation: The Make or Break Sales Skill

8/11/15 2:00 PM


3 Steps to Matching & Positioning Product for Maximum Impact


Every-Business-Must-DifferentiateWe hope you've enjoyed our Sales and Business Development blog series so far. In case you missed the other two blogs, you can view them hereThis blog is the third in our series, and will help you understand the importance of client differentiation.

  1. It’s All About the Client  

When a client has a problem, issue or ‘hook’ requiring a solution, they look for one thing: simplicity. They are looking to "break-down" an existing problem and seek a solution that will satisfy their needs and take their business forward. Your job is to understand the specific business issues and then provide a solution that will address their issues in very concrete, tangible ways.  Here is where you will need two key things:

  1. A complete understanding of the client, the business and their aspirations for the future and blockers that will get in the way and hinder future growth
  2. A thorough and detailed understanding of your product / solution and how to position that product appropriately so it presents a business answer to client growth


Sales also needs to remember that not all levels of the product / solution behave the same way in the marketplace, with individual clients as a whole and with individual members of the client buying center. 

Each client has their specific view(s) of their business.  Listening to how a client views their world and how they prioritize their issues is critically important.  The client is providing the roadmap.  Sales must follow the client lead.

  1. Matching and Positioning your Product as a Client Solution

After sales has a thorough and tangible understanding of the client and their business issues, only then will sales be able to MATCH and POSITION their product / solution appropriately. With that understanding of the client, sales can now provide solutions both competitively and with great positive impact. This is the alignment and matching process leading to differentiation.

No two client conversations should sound the same since every client is different.  Sales must pick up on those client nuances. Your aim is to listen, understand and have better client information than your competition. You will then be able to position your product / solution with maximum impact. 

  1. The Sound of the Skill of Differentiating

The Sales Matching / Positioning Test

At this stage, you are in position to convert the conversation about your product into how that product / feature will solve and address client needs.  As simple as this sounds, this is where both skill and mental agility are absolutely essential.  This is often where the sale is either won or lost. 

Throughout this process, your aim is to move the conversation from you and your product to the client and their issues. You must be able to frame your conversation completely into the client’s world.  It’s all about them, not about you. 

Screen_Shot_2015-08-10_at_9.38.58_AMNote that very little of this conversation has to do with you.  A majority of the language, in blue, must be about them and what they have said are their issues. 

If you remember that this is all about the client, and that your product / service is simply a solution to their issues, you will have moved into the coveted space called ‘advisory selling’. 

To better understand how we approach this critical sales skill, I invite you to learn more about our Sales & Business Development program as part of the Phoenix Strategic Performance Institute. This program helps you to strategically align your sales process to accelerate the relationship sales process, creating corporate growth and building strategic value.

Explore the Sales & Business Development Program

Topics: Business Development

Posted by Joanne Flynn

Joanne Flynn

In 2014, Joanne Flynn founded Phoenix Strategic Performance, a strategic human capital advisory firm. Prior to this, Joanne was Vice President at Goldman Sachs for 10 years responsible for global learning and development. She then led the consulting practice of Phoenix Group International, a consulting firm specializing in global financial service. Joanne is now taking best practices from the people-intensive financial services industry and adapting those best practices to startup and growth businesses. She is a thought leader in the areas of strategic organizational alignment, organizational agility, human capital gap analysis, leadership challenges for the new workplace and transformation leadership.

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