The power to be different

As humans, we spend much of our lives trying to fit in. From our earliest social interactions, we want to be a part of something bigger than us. We want to: make the right friends, wear the right clothes, go to the right schools, drive the right car, listen to the right music, hang out at the right places, get the right job, marry the right person, buy the right home, and join the right clubs. Whew! How could so much right feel so wrong?

In the process of fitting in, we lose sight of the fact that we have a God-given right to be different genetic mandate to stand out. Your DNA has a ten-billion-billion-to-one chance that any other person will have your exact genetic code. If you leave your fingerprints on a glass, we know you were there. Your iris is so unique that it can be used to clear you through airport security. You are the only thing like you for all of time, a one-shot deal, a bonafide individual.

So, why do salespeople have such difficulty standing out from the competition? Why do salespeople struggle with the question: “Why should I buy from your company versus the competition?” My guess is that they spend too little time thinking about the stand-out difference that makes them outstanding.

The Unique Selling Proposition has been around since the 1940’s. It is the one thing that makes your offering different than anyone else – the standout difference. It is a concise statement of your definable and defendable differences. Eighty-two per cent of salespeople fail to differentiate themselves from the competition. Could it be that the customer’s price objection is another way of saying: “The reason I won’t pay more to buy from you is that I don’t see a dime’s worth of difference between you and the rest of the pack.”

So be proud of your differences. Celebrate what makes you and your company unique. And the next time your customer asks you, “Aren’t you and the competition really in the same business?” answer them by saying, “We’re in the same industry, but we’re not in the same business and here’s why.”

Persuasion and emotion

Persuasion is a process, not an event. It is more than arguing someone into submission. It’s a full-brain, heart-and-head process. It’s about the content of your message and the context in which you present it.

The content of your message is all about the practical reasons someone should own and use your product. It is the left-brain, objective argument that must appeal to the critic and the skeptic in the buyer. It makes sense to go with your product because it computes. This factual argument is chock-full of Aristotelian ethos.

The context of your argument is all about backdrop. Customers call this the “look and feel” of things. It is the right brain, subjective appeal of your offering that resonates with the buyer’s heart more than his head. It feels right to go with you and your company. This emotional appeal is a full belly of Aristotelian pathos.

This is where many salespeople err. They believe that a compelling argument must be filled with facts and figures. That’s partially true. The factual part of the argument gives the buyer reasons to buy the product from the supplier with whom they feel most comfortable. If you ignore this “feel comfortable” reality, you have limited your power of persuasion. If you want to be more persuasive and present compelling arguments for your cause, use facts, figures, and proof to help the buyer justify what his heart tells him is the right decision to make.

Tom Reilly is the author of Value Added Selling. You can visit him online at</

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