“Me Too,” Is Not A Value Proposition!


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A client called me up a couple of days ago with an interesting problem. They were in the closing stage of a very large deal. They had done a thoughtful job of understanding the customer business, their goals, the problems they were trying to address, and so forth. They had made a final presentation, it had included a good business analysis about the benefits the customer would get, and the value they should expect. They provided a good analysis including both hard and soft justification for their solution.

After a few days, the customer cam back to my client saying, “We’ve reviewed your proposal and that of your competition. They claim they can achieve all the benefits you presented, but they can do it at a much lower price. If you want to win the business, you have to be more competitive in your pricing.”

My client didn’t know how to deal with this, apparently the competitor had come back to the customer, simply stating, “We can do everything they can do, only cheaper.” otherwise known as “Me too.”

When you think of it, this isn’t uncommon. Whether it’s the claims of a competitor, or the assessment of a customer, if your value proposition isn’t differentiated from the alternatives the customer is considering, then even with the most compelling business case, the lowest price wins! It’s our job as sales professionals to continually differentiate ourselves from these alternatives–validating that differentiation with the customer through out their buying process.

Sustained differentiation is virtually impossible if we focus only on the capabilities of our products. In today’s buying environment, the only vendors considered are those whose products basically meet the needs and requirements of the customer—they’ve already done the research and educated themselves on the products. Those they choose to evaluate are all likely to meet their needs. What the customer is trying to do in their evaluation is to understand the differences in the solutions, choosing the one they feel is best.

Since buyers are “informed,” it becomes our task as sales professionals to focus on differentiating our solution — not products, our companies, and ourselves from everything else — and getting our customers to agree to that differentiation. This differentiation can include many different things–the “intangible” comfort or confidence that we create in working with the customer through their buying process, making it easy to do business with our organization, meeting our commitments–not only in the selling process, but through our entire relationship with the customer. That differentiation can be our reputation–both that of our company and our own personal reputation. It can be our flexibility in working with the customer, the value we created in helping facilitate their buying process. It could be our leadership in helping them think about their business differently. It could be simply a perception on the part of the customer that we care more.

Differentiation is often very subtle, it’s sometimes easy to overlook—often because both we and our customers are so focused on product/feature/function/feeds/speeds. We cannot allow ourselves or the customers overlook these subtle elements of differentiation. It’s important to have them know both that they can count on you and your organization and to have them acknowledge that. It’s important for them to acknowledge the leadership you provide in helping them through their buying process–with neither you nor they taking it for granted. They need to know you will be providing the same leadership through their purchase and implementation.

“Me too” is not a sustainable value proposition. We can’t put ourselves in the position where the customer sees no differentiation. If they can’t differentiate us, then the only differentiator is price. Don’t let that happen to you.

By the way, after talking about this with my client, they were able to sit down with their customer and walk through this. But they learned an important lesson—never take their differentiation for granted.

Related posts:

  1. Is There Real Value In Your Value Proposition?
  2. You Lose Because Of What You Don’t Do
  3. Do You Know Your Customer’s Value Proposition? What Are You Doing To Help Them Deliver It?
  4. When All Else Is Equal, How Do You Differentiate Yourself
  5. It All Starts With The Customer

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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