In today’s marketplace, there is very little differentiating you from your competition. We don’t like to admit it, but our products have become a commodity. There is nothing we sell that our competitors don’t sell, won’t sell or couldn’t sell.

So, what does it take to really stand out, how do you gain competitive advantage?

5 Strategies to Gain Competitive Advantage

  1. Understand When The Sales Cycle Starts – right now while you have been reading this blog since you started taking a note or answering your emails, your best customers have started the sales cycle. The thing is they started the sales cycle without you. Right now, your prospects are googling for the next product they are going to buy; tonight they will go to a party or play a round of golf and ask their friends what they purchased, or whom they’re working with, and later that evening, they will read a magazine or watch an infomercial about the product.

If your name is not coming up, and if you are not the one they are talking about, or hearing about, then by the time you make the sales call; you are already behind. In sales today, you have to realize the sales cycle starts long before it used to, and you need to get out there in it.

  1. Get Above the White Noise – and to get into the sales cycle early, you have to get above the white noise. Ask yourself what you have done, what has your business done in the last six months to a year that is buzz-worthy? Then ask yourself what you are doing to create that buzz?

People do business with people they know, like and trust, but only if they have heard of them and about them. Have you volunteered in the community, won an award, shot a new video, or hired two new people? Of course, you have, and you need to be using social media, traditional thank you notes, newsletters – whatever it takes to create that buzz.

  1. Connect First – then, when you have a shot at a sales call, you need to do the opposite of what you think you are supposed to do. Instead of coming on strong, you need to slow down and focus on building the relationship first. It is not the product your customer is seeking. They can find that anywhere – even without you.

So if they feel connected to you, that differentiates you from your competitors.  We connect by slowing down, listening. When we listen; we send a message that says this relationship is more about them than you.

  1. Solve Urgent Need – and when we listen, we will hear what is most important to our customer. In other words, their urgent need. Customers are not always ready to buy what we are selling, or they may not know what they need. So we need to listen to their needs first, then when we solve their issues, they will trust us. When they believe us, the door is wide open to build a long and very deep relationship.
  1. Protect The Relationship – getting a sale is not easy these days. It takes a lot of time and effort. So once you get it, protect it. Realize that this customer trusts you, and expects you to care and nurture that relationship.

The worst thing that can happen to you in today’s marketplace is not that you do not get the sale, it is that your customer finds out about a product or service they need from someone else other than you. That breaks trust, and lack of trust is lack or relationship.

Selling today’s is different – different marketplace, different customer, different competitors. So doesn’t it make sense you would need a new set of strategies to gain competitive advantage?