What's Your Competitive
by Dr. Tony Alessandra
times have you been in a selling situation where the
customer's sole focus was on price?
your customers can't tell the difference between your
product or service and your competitor's product or
service, the customer will buy based on price. You
must be able to differentiate your company, your product,
your quality, your service, and yourself if you want
the customer to stop focusing on price and start seeing
you as a partner, and not just as a supplier. You've
got to show him how you are different.
around the country giving keynote speeches the past
22 years, I've been so amazed to find how many salespeople
do not know and cannot articulate their competitive
advantage to their prospects and customers!
they expect their prospects and customers to give
them their time and attention when they cannot tell
them in a concise way what they can do for them that
no one else can do?
or sales reps who don't understand their competitive
advantage say things like, "Our product is better
quality" or "Our service is better."
a company is has better quality or better service,
it won't convince its customers just by saying so
because many of it's competitors will be saying the
exact same thing! You have to define quality. You
have to show what outstanding service looks like and
how your service differs from the competition.
can you demonstrate your competitive advantage?
someone walks up to you at a business conference or
social gathering, introduces herself, and asks you
what you do for a living.
would you say?
have any trouble? Did you stumble? Do you know what
sets you apart from your competitors? If this was
hard for you, you're not alone. If you were to ask
the average car dealer, computer store or furniture
manufacturer what they do for a living they'll probably
say, "I sell cars, computers or furniture."
But what does every other car, computer or furniture
company say? Exactly the same thing!
should the businessperson who understands his competitive
this for the car dealer.
name is Mike from Competitive Motors. We've found
that there is a lot of confusion in the automotive
market today because there have been over 150 new
models introduced in just the past three years. We've
developed a computer book that profiles everything
the buyer wants in a car and in less than five minutes,
identifies the models most likely to fit their needs."
Statement of Competitive Advantage has four components:
- a statement
about a typical problem experienced in your target
- an intriguing
statement about how you can help solve that problem
of competitive advantage is a 30-second statement
of what differentiates your company in the marketplace.
name is Marlene, and I'm owner of the company 'The
Prescription for Doctors.' Physicians today are being
pressured by insurers, employers, and patients to
cut health care costs. Yet overhead costs for physicians
are constantly rising. We provide a service that allows
the physician to spend more time with patients and
cut overhead costs at the same time resulting in better
quality care at a lower cost. It's just what the doctor
one last example:
name is Beth. It's nice to meet you. I'm with a company
called 'The Greatest Advertising Agency in the World.'
We've discovered that almost every successful product
has either been the first entry in it's category or
it has been able to create a new category in the mind
of it's customers. What we do is help companies who
are launching new products or having trouble with
old ones ensure that their product is positioned to
does set you apart from the competition and it makes
you sound like a polished expert right form the start.
But how do you determine exactly what your competitive
way to determine your competitive advantage is to
first break down the components of your product or
service into four distinct categories, Competitive
uniquenesses, competitive advantages, competitive
parities, and competitive disadvantages.
look at each one individually.
I do for my customers that no one else can do? What
can I offer that no one else can offer?
Competitive advantage: What can I do for my customer
that my competitor can also do, but I can do it better
and I can prove it?
Competitive parity: My competitors and I are the same
here -- no real differentiation.
Competitive disadvantage: Where does the competition
have an advantage over me?
want to do your analysis by market segment, by competitor,
by product, or all of them. But knowing your competitive
position will quickly get you on your customers wavelength.
say a pharmaceutical company just got FDA approval
to sell a new drug. This company now has a competitive
uniqueness with this drug, no one else has it.
of a competitive advantage might be where two companies
market the same drug, but one is a large well-known
company and the other is a small relatively unknown
both are selling essentially the same product the
larger company has an advantage because it's well-known
and people ask for the drug by its company name because
of its wide name recognition. If no real competitive
advantage exists in your product, try to focus on
your company reputation, your excellent service, your
responsiveness and reliability or any other factors
than can positively differentiate you from your competition.
let's look at what things are the same between the
competition and you?
you have that is exactly like the competition but
is still important to the customer? Birth control
pills are a good example. Several ethical drug companies
make different formulations, but all with similar
records for preventing pregnancy. This is competitive
finally, what specific disadvantages does your product
the competition do better than you do? Your drug may
have more side effects than the competitor's. That's
a competitive disadvantage.
examples I've just given, we were talking about the
whole product as being unique or the same. But what
do you do if you have a product where some features
may be unique, some may be advantages, some may be
the same and some may be disadvantages.
example, that you are selling a fax machine that is
plain paper, that's (parity), because others do too.
But yours will interface with your phone, computer
or car telephone, that's (uniqueness). Yours also
has the highest resolution available, that's an (advantage),
300 number memory, another (advantage), but it will
not do broadcasting and polling, that's a (disadvantage).
an example in a service business.
Express will get it there over night, but so will
other companies, so that's (parity), by ten-thirty
(used to be an advantage but now that's also parity).
But FedEx has a provable better track record, an (advantage),
and they can tell you in real time, exactly where
your package is, that's a (uniqueness).
stress enough the importance of doing this analysis
and knowing your competitive advantage. By doing this
analysis you'll be in a position to help your customers
distinguish between you and your competition. Once
they see your uniquenesses and advantages, it will
be easier for them to make a decision in your favor.
you can see now why it's so important to know what
you have to offer that's unique. But you may be wondering,
what you'll do with that information once you have
it? How will you get it across to the client?
going to use this information in every step of the
sale. Your entire selling effort will be built around
your competitive strengths.
are targeting your market, you'll be looking for those
clients whose needs are most likely to match your
uniquenesses and advantages.
contact clients you'll open the conversation by letting
your clients know what you can do for them that no
one else can do.
the exploring phase, you'll be asking questions that
will uncover client needs in the areas where you have
uniquenesses & advantages.
are collaborating with the client, you'll keep the
clients focused on your uniquenesses and advantages
and show him how they match his needs.
the commitment phase, you'll be summarizing all of
the competitive advantages that your product has to
offer and during the assuring phase, you'll be measuring
how well your uniquenesses and advantages are serving
clearly know your competitive advantages and uniquenesses
and are able to articulate them clearly to prospective
customers, you will rise above your competition to
make more sales, more profits and more long-term satisfied