I started my career in sales and clearly remember my first “big deal” 24 years ago- the buyer leaned across the table, smiled, and calmly asked “So- why should I buy from you?”
While millions of versions of this story play across every culture and language every day, the question is a valuable one that you and your teams need to be able to consistently answer: “What makes your business better?” which is what Michael Porter attempted to answer in his excellent book "On Competitive Advantage".
The important consideration here is that the answer to the question needs to be from the eyes of the potential buyer. Your own internal efficiencies, great training programs, world class IT, HR retention, fabulous Asset management, and debt structuring for example, rarely are what makes a customer choose to buy from your organization.
Essentially the buyer is measuring you around four dimensions:
- Your offer allows the customer to do something in a better way than any other offering- Innovation
- Your offer allows the customer higher levels of efficiency (often measured in dollar/euro/gbp/etc costs) within their organization- Productivity
- Your offer allows the customer to be faster at responding to customer needs and/or cycle times- Customer Responsiveness
- Your offer allows the customer to provide higher levels of reliability on a consistent basis- Quality
The question to ask your team(s) is – “what dimensions are we consistently competing on?”
Compare the answers to the board, the CEO, and other teams.
A danger signal is if the answers are widely dispersed or if the answer is, “all of the above!!”
“What makes your business better” is not a question your teams should struggle to answer and rather should be the point of pride that makes the buyer pick up the pen and sign the agreement (and yes, fortunately I got that sale!).