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July 15, 2022

How your product or brand can avoid becoming a commodity  

In business, salespeople are a dime a dozen. Some are truly “experts,” and some are just trying to make a buck.

As such, it can be difficult for the true experts to stand out. Potential clients and customers are inundated with sales pitches, so they become desensitized over time. It’s natural: Being sold gets old.

When cold emails, calls and LinkedIn pitches are literally everywhere, they tend to seem fishy and annoying. It becomes easier and easier to avoid the call, hit “delete” or report them as spam — even when they’re not.

Nancy Marshall
Photo / Ben Williamson
Nancy Marshall of Marshall Communications

But the best salespeople shouldn’t complain. Business is never easy. There are always obstacles, including your competition. Don’t be a commodity. Separate yourself from the pack by adding real, measurable value for your clients and customers, so they’re actually satisfied.

You need to become more valuable than your competitors could ever dream of being. Help your customers solve their greatest problems.

Think of the difference between a cup of coffee at your corner gas station and the latest Starbucks dark roast. You may pay three times more at Starbucks, and that’s because Starbucks provides you with a unique experience. They give you more customizable choices, and their products just plain taste better.

CEO Howard Schultz and other Starbucks leaders have thought of every single aspect of their customer experience, so you feel like it’s designed just for you. To quote Schultz, “Success is not sustainable if it is defined by how big you become or by growth for growth’s sake. Success is very shallow if it doesn’t have emotional meaning.”

Emotional meaning

Schultz and his entire company make people feel proud of and passionate about the Starbucks experience, turning them into brand ambassadors for others and making them come back for more cups — over and over again. Starbucks adds true value in people’s lives, hence the $92 billion market capitalization.

In many ways, Starbucks understands their “avatar” — their ideal clientele — better than other companies. From the CEO to local baristas, Starbucks employees are laser-focused on delivering goods that improve our daily lives in tangible ways. They deliver consistently too.

Do you do that with your products or services? Have you thought about how you can solve your clientele’s most serious problems — the ones that keep them up at night?

Be the hero that helps other people with their problems. Position yourself as Superman or Superwoman who is swooping in to save the day, and tailor your deliverables accordingly. Those deliverables shouldn’t be difficult to understand or appreciate. It should be easy figuring out how they can save the day. That is the ultimate value of delivering in the first place.

In Starbucks’ case, their coffee provides consumers with a boost or a pause during hectic days. That alone is infinitely more valuable than the $4 spent on a latte or the time it takes to download the Starbucks app.

Apply Starbucks to your own business experiences. Promising is important but delivering is the lifeblood of business. I call it the brand promise. You want your business to be known as the one that delivers on the promise of its sales and marketing messages.

The key is truly understanding your targeted persona or avatar. Know how your product or service can solve their greatest problems and make sure your salespeople have a deep understanding of how your products and services can solve their problems. Your sales force will have a much higher closing rate if they are targeting the right prospects and if they have the messaging and media that will connect with those prospects. They should have a deep understanding of what they are selling and who they are selling to.

When asked about your value-add, you want your customers to say, “they really heard me and I felt good buying from them." Better yet, you want them to tell all their friends and become a brand ambassador for your company.

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