Keys to Competitive Differentiation: Responsiveness, Context, Insight


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With more than 130,00 attendees at Dreamforce last week, hundreds of speakers and roar coming from the trade show floor, I wondered how sales and marketing leaders are going to differentiate when literally dozens of vendors can deliver similar functionality.

These are my top 3 differentiators and all three must be present to be effective.



I met Jeff Adcock, Regional Sales Director of at their booth at the Dreamforce event last week and I asked him how important he thought speed of response was in engaging clients. “My team tries to respond to inbound inquiries in under 30 seconds of receiving the lead.”

“We have found the first 30 seconds to be critical.”

To do this takes infrastructure, technology and a sales team trained to respond. Jeff summarized the work flow.

  • A lead starts with a form submission.
  • We capture the form data and if we recognize the phone number, we route it to the rep responsible or the team that handles the region or account.
  • We do a screen pop to a queue of reps who can see that the lead has come in.
  • If the designated rep doesn’t click on it, it gets routed to another rep.
  • The rep clicks on the number and it auto-dials the prospect and most of the time we get a pickup and we are off and running.

We have seen a huge drop off in engagement after 30 seconds.

We keep validating our response performance each year and the MIT Olroyd Lead Response Management study numbers don’t change. So while people think the study is out of date as it was published in 2007, it isn’t and the numbers haven’t changed.


When a salesperson does engage with a client, it’s important know where the prospective buyer is on their journey and the prior interactions with your company. Are they engaged and reading your email or is it their first touch? Have they visited any pages on your Website, if so which ones, as this can provide useful background for a relevant conversation.

“I noticed you downloaded our eBook on Building Responsive Sales Teams and I visited your Website and see that you sell through a distribution channel. We are working with a number of companies on enabling their channel to be more responsive.

I’ll send you a couple of links to articles and demo that could help with your thinking. If there is interest, we could set up a call to share what problems we are seeing and what’s moving the needle.”


According to Forrester Research, “In nine out of 10 meetings, salespeople fail to demonstrate that they understand the problems executives are facing and are unable to connect the dots between those challenges and your solution”.

Responsiveness without insight has no value.

Buyers don’t need salespeople to have a relationship with your company and they don’t need salespeople to provide product information, as these are always available.

If a salespeople can bring insight and experience to the table and contribute to the buyers understanding of the value in your approach to solving the problem, they can have a relationship with the buyer.

Buyers value conversations with salespeople who know what they are talking about and can relate how others have solved similar problems.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson has been at the forefront of developing sales and marketing tools that create clarity in messaging value for 30 years. As a consultant he is now engaged in helping sales, marketing and enablement teams to get clear about value creation. Clarity attracts inbound leads, clarity converts visitors into leads and leads into customers, clarity builds mindshare, clarity engages customers, clarity differentiates value, clarity helps onboard new hires clarity helps raise funds, clarity + execution win markets.


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