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What makes you different? Six tips for communicating your differentiation

In today’s commoditized world, it is very difficult for prospects to ascertain how one provider’s products and services are different from another’s. The reality is that most often there is not a lot that is different. And, in those rare exceptions where there is something, replication can happen so quickly that the competitive edge vanishes in a heartbeat.

Understanding how you compare to your competitors is at the core of your clients’ decision-making process. So, the clearer you can be in proactively outlining your unique strengths to them, the better you will be positioned to win the business.

Here are five tips that will help you to proactively and effectively answer your clients’ question: How are you different?

1. Do not assume that the client will know something that you are presenting is different from your competitors. When discussing an area of differentiation, frame it so that the client understands it as such. For example, “This is where we are very different from our competitors”, or “this is a real strength for us, and an area that we standout from others”.

2. Keep up to date with changes in the market and changes in your own products and services. Be absolutely clear what your strengths are as they relate to your competition.

3. Don’t be concerned if your product offering is not substantially different. The most powerful and compelling differentiation can often be related to your service, culture, people, approach and processes.

4. Similarly, It is more important to be the right "fit" for a prospect than to be different. Focus on gaining a better understanding of the prospect than your competition. Emphasize the similarities that you share with the prospect and how your solutions are an ideal fit.

5. Practice how you will describe your areas of differentiation to the prospect. Make sure that your description does not end with a feature, but includes what is in it for the client and how it addresses their specific need.

6. Gather proof points, examples and stories that will support your assertions.

Here is an example of how someone might discuss a quarterly review process as a point of differentiation.

"At the core of our servicing approach is a quarterly review process. We are very proud of this process and I think you will find that it is very different from our competitor’s approach.

The objective of the review is two-fold: it holds us accountable to the goals that we have set, and secondly it provides an opportunity to make any adjustments to our servicing approach. This will ensure that you are kept up to date, and will not be hit with any surprises (which you have mentioned is important to you). Additionally, it allows us to continually make any adjustments to how we are servicing you.

We are convinced that our approach is largely responsible for our 98% client satisfaction rates and industry leading client retention numbers."

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