Consultative Selling

Is Your Sales Team Creating Real Differentiation?

By Tom Roth

To avoid the pitfalls of competing on price, salespeople are often told they need to “sell the value.” Another strategy is to “value-add” by offering the customer extra services or product features without charge. While these strategies can be effective short-term, neither of these approaches produces a sustainable advantage. Selling the value implies that the salesperson either truly understands what the customer values, or that the value offered is perceived as significantly different from the competing offerings. All too often, neither one of these is true. At the same time, a value-add strategy has its own drawbacks. While it may sometimes win a sale, it produces customer expectations of “free stuff”; it also erodes margins and may be easy for the competitor to match.

Salespeople rely on these strategies, ineffective though they often are, because they find it difficult to achieve genuine differentiation based on something the customer values and is hard for the competition to replicate. But suppose a salesperson were able to create a highly differentiated offering that provides real value competitors can’t copy because it is unique to the customer? The secret lies in going beyond features and services that are easily commoditized and developing what Ted Levitt called “the potential offering.” Salespeople can achieve this kind of differentiation by looking beyond their product to all aspects of the customer’s experience across the whole process of buying and using a product or service.

The Customer Life Cycle, as it is sometimes called, provides a lens for understanding the experience at four critical phases, from buying the solution through the end of its useful life. Each phase offers an opportunity for an innovative salesperson to find sources of differentiation.

The secret lies in going beyond features and services that are easily commoditized, and developing what Ted Levitt called 'the potential offering.'

Tom Roth

Tom Roth是Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc.(美国)的首席运营官和Wilson Learning Worldwide Inc.(日本)的总裁,他拥有40多年的人力绩效提升解决方案开发和实施的经验,负责Wilson Learnin全球集团的战略方向和业务绩效。此外,他还领导全球营销服务和解决方案研发部门,负责所有解决方案和价值主张白皮书的研发。他在员工敬业度、领导力发展、战略调整和业务转型相关领域,为全球的领导团队提供协助。在担任现任职务之前,他曾担任全球研发和解决方案研发部门总裁,也曾担任Wilson Learning Corporation的总裁。

Tom Roth在开发和实施人力绩效提升解决方案领域拥有丰富的经验。他合著了《如何使企业重新找回活力》(英文原文),《创建高性能团队》(英文)的,并在众多商业出版物上发表过文章。他是一位在国内、国际会议和客户活动上活跃的演讲者,涉及内容广泛,其中包括:领导力、员工参与度、变革和战略实施。