Wisdom as a Market Differentiator

By Lain Chroust Ehmann

Salespeople are facing greater commodification of products and services across all industries, even those with complex sales cycles. One of the remaining ways for salespeople to differentiate themselves is through their insights into customers’ business problems. Often this means reading between the lines to reach conclusions that customers might not have discovered yet. In fact, the more salespeople can connect the dots for their customers and create unanticipated recommendations, the more they’ll impress them with their insightfulness, says Vickie Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Speaker Services.

Sullivan calls this process creating nuggets of wisdom. “In the salesperson’s knowledge of the prospect’s situation, what does the salesperson see that is not being verbalized?” she asks, adding that when you verbalize the unspoken, suddenly you’re the expert.

Sullivan has a few tips for creating and using nuggets. First, nuggets often result from research about your customers. Viewing a business’s issues and problems through the lens of your experience can give you insights your customer might not be aware of. Other times you’ll make connections in the midst of discussions with prospects. Sullivan suggests asking yourself questions such as: What do I see that they’re not verbalizing?

Nuggets are only effective if they present an idea customers haven’t already thought of. Sullivan explains that if your customers already know what you’re saying, you’re not offering anything new or differentiating yourself. She recommends asking pointed questions during the conversation to see if the customer has already made the connection. For example, if you see that a customer’s business is positioned well for one of their target markets but is missing a secondary market, you might ask: Given your success in the aeronautics industry, why do you think you haven’t been as successful in reaching the automotive industry? Their answer will tell you if they’ve come to the same conclusion you have.

Finally, it almost goes without saying that if you raise an issue for your customers, you need to make sure you position your company to solve the problem. “You tie the nugget to you,” says Sullivan.

The success of any nugget comes from its ability to show, not just tell, customers about your expertise and wisdom. Says Sullivan, “If you create a way for prospects to believe that on their own, it’s much more powerful.”

For more information, please click on www.sullivanspeaker.com.