Enterprise sales is a crowded space—especially when it comes to MarTech or IT—with more and more vendors throwing their hats into the ring each year. Competition isn’t going anywhere, so if you want your solution to stand out, you need to go the extra mile to get noticed.

The good news is that many of the best strategies for differentiating your product during the sales process don’t involve complicated analytics or purchasing a new license for some sophisticated intelligence tool. All it takes is you. With more and more selling taking the form of lifeless sales presentations and spam messaging, it’s the human element that will set you apart. How you conduct yourself and the relationships you forge along the way will be the key differentiators that help you cut through the static, stand out, and engage your buyers more effectively.

Here’s how.

Unmask the competition with inside insight

Let’s get this out of the way: Actually having insight into your competitors’ selling process is one of the best ways to separate yourself from the pack. Maybe buyers complain that the reps are unresponsive or clearly aren’t grasping their needs. Great! Now you know what to emphasize. And doing so will not only only make your solution more attractive, but also make you seem more appealing as a potential partner.

If you have an internal advocate pulling for you behind the scenes, see what information they may be willing to divulge about the competition’s process or where they feel they’re being underserved. If you’re in touch with former buyers at the organization, lean on them for insight into where other players have let them down the past. Turn your competitors’ weaknesses into your strengths, and the stark contrast will really make your product shine.

Ask and you shall receive

Buyers have said it time and again, but many salespeople continue to make the same mistake: not asking enough questions.

Chances are, the other guys have been busy wasting buyers’ time with sales paraphernalia, talking a mile a minute about how long they’ve been in business and how impressive their product is. But to the modern buyer, this isn’t only disengaging—it’s transparently self-serving.

Consider that only 13 percent of buyers feel that sales reps are capable of understanding their needs. So, if you don’t have specific intel into the competition’s selling process, focus on asking questions that get to the heart of your prospect’s pain points for an immediate leg up. Buyers want to see that you’ve taken an active interest in their business, so trust the process—show that you are there to help, not just sell, and, eventually, the sales will come.

The more you know

If your product’s specs lag a little behind the competition, don’t despair. Most sales teams overlook the importance of grasping how their products fit in the broader context of the industry or how they’ll integrate with prospects’ existing vendors and solutions.

You probably already know that you need to become an expert on your product if you want to sell successfully, but taking it a step further and becoming a more well-rounded student of the industry as a whole can get you to the top of the class. Network with former buyers at organizations you plan to target to get the inside scoop on impending changes to operations, workflows, and technologies.

Follow the social media accounts of industry thought leaders to stay abreast of trends currently impacting the space. If any new standards are being set or adopted by organizations in your target’s industry, think about what that means for your product—for instance, does your messaging need to change to adapt to the new landscape? Eighty-two percent of enterprise decision-makers believe sales people are unprepared, so the opportunity is clearly there to impress your prospect with how much you’ve learned about them and the bigger picture.

Be an all-around, value-adding partner

There are a lot of leads in your pipeline. And since winning business can seem like a numbers game at times, so it’s natural to want to cast a wide net for the biggest haul. While that approach may technically mean you’re reaching more buyers, the quality of those interactions is likely to suffer.

With so many of today’s selling tactics centered around intrusive cold calling, impersonal emailing, and robotic pitching, treating your prospect like they’re the only one for you can give you a massive advantage.

Today’s buyers are savvy, so bursting into the room and gunning for a sale will get you nowhere. Be sincere, and work with your prospect to show you clearly understand their needs. Be responsive when corresponding, and follow up promptly after every interaction. You’d be surprised how many sales people let emails go unanswered—even from a hot lead. It’s been found that between 30 to 50 percent of new business is awarded to the sales person who’s quickest to respond, so don’t undervalue this simple, yet powerful, tactic.

In general, whenever you’re conversing with prospects—whether at industry events, online, or in-person—don’t approach them as a sales person, but rather as a concerned partner with solutions (read: any solution, not just yours) to their business problems. Share a relevant article, case study, or white paper that addresses a particular need. Put them in touch with other professionals in your network who have expertise that can help with their current challenges.

After some time, you’ll likely find business coming to you. And even when it doesn’t and you’re forced to call on them, it’ll be easier to win since you’ve already proven yourself to be a helpful, value-adding resource—even when there was nothing for you to gain.

Have you noticed a theme here? You should have: being a thoughtful, patient partner who’s truly invested in your prospects’ success is your best bet for differentiating yourself from the noisy, pushy salespeople buyers have grown to hate. Instead of shouting and spamming, understand your prospects’ challenges and build a relationship that delivers real value. Show that you care about them—and not just about your bottom line.

Executive Insights

Differentiating yourself from the competition is all about delivering value. If you can learn where your competitors are falling short, you can leverage that insight to make a real impact. You’ll need to ask better questions, research more intelligently, and build relationships with prospects—even when you’re not selling—in order to set yourself apart. Putting in the extra effort and covering all your bases can give you the critical edge you need to stand out.


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