What comes to mind when you hear the term "differentiation?" If we automatically think of products and services when we hear that term, we may be missing a key component of sales excellence. In a recent online article for The Business Journals, How to Be Different in How You Sell, Not Just What You Sell, author Lee Salz makes an excellent case for the sales professional's role in differentiation, and the need for us to own it!

"Certainly, a company has a responsibility to create a differentiated offering that justifies the pricing they've assigned to it. What salespeople fail to realize is that they have a tremendous opportunity to differentiate themselves beyond the features and functions of the products they sell," writes Salz.

Salz goes on to share his personal experience in buying an engagement ring. With no history in this kind of purchase, he saw great value in the exploratory and educational processes that took place prior to even being shown ring inventory. The sales process started with a conversation. The sales person explored with Salz and his fiancé to understand their perspective, emotions and knowledge of diamonds. Then, armed with these insights, the sales professional was able to educate her customers with relevant information about their purchase and, perhaps most importantly, share in their excitement over the ring selection.

In this example, the entire sales process was a differentiating feature for this retail establishment, and one which was highly valued by its clients. It is worth noting that the sales process was supported by the expertise of the sales professional and the valued insights she was able to deliver along the way. Using such a pure and simplistic example, one can see the role of a strong exploratory process, communication skills and worthwhile insights to differentiate based solely on our sales skills/process and attain the coveted role of consultant and valued asset.

Salz wisely points out, "By leveraging sales differentiation, [sales professionals] can provide meaningful value by the way in which they sell, not just what they sell."

Read the entire article here: How to Be Different in How You Sell, Not Just What You Sell