Jul 062008

Hands up anyone out there who isn’t tired of competing on price. Why is it that everyone insists they do not compete on price, but ends up wheeling and dealing, bargaining, being haggled and giving a discount? Vendors are sick of it, customers know they can get away with asking for less and spend precious time playing the game instead of tending to what they really should be doing and resellers routinely hit up their product’s publishers for rebates.

It is a vicious circle. No one admits they are part of the problem either.

What is a poor seller to do? Differentiate yourself with both substance and marketing.

The difficult part first. Knowing yourself leads to knowing your value proposition, which in turn leads to figuring out what you do better than everyone else (if you honestly cannot answer that question then you are in trouble). Now put some substance behind it. Stop compensating your sales department for short-term goals. Incorporate customer satisfaction and long-term revenue into the remuneration package. Make sure everyone at the company is aware of your value proposition, your differentiated value proposition and is consistently educated in that field. Can your salespersons, consultants, implementers and customer service team explain what specific industry or business result you specialize in and can they hold an in-depth discussion about it with your customers?

For instance, if you have accidentally or consciously decided you are after the public sector business, can your entire team speak to the requirements of the levels of government you serve? Do they understand who is who, what the language of government is and what results governments demand?

The simpler part is the marketing. Does your website, collateral and discussions focus on your differentiator? Your website has to target your core competence with the appropriate business requirements and testimonials. Does the company’s brochures lay claim to your specialty instead of talking about the company’s history and management and who knows what else? Does your channel carry the knowledge around with it? Focus on branding your focus and who you are and make sure you walk the talk.

The implication? You are ready to walk away from non-core business and no one can beat your knowledge of the domain. That is value that for which the customer can safely pay more.

It is only now that your company can confidently stay away from discounted business and the price concessions that have become so prevalent. You are not commodity and you should be priced accordingly.

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