Sales Shape-Up

Differentiation, Value and More

6. Differentiate your business. What makes you stand out in a positive way? How will your customer remember you after four competitors make their presentations? Follow-through, understanding the customer's business, and service after the sale are important to customers, so before the sale is made, we need to come up with ways to demonstrate our track record of providing these. I used to interview my satisfied customers on tape and use their success stories and comments to handle my prospects' concerns. At the time, no one else did that, and it helped me stand out in a positive way that also increased my closing ratio.

I remember talking to a sales rep for Oracle who would tell each customer he was going to tape and transcribe their entire needs assessment meeting so they both had all the notes, key criteria and action items for review. They were complex sales, and he made his customers feel at ease that they were on the right track. Think about it: What can you do to differentiate your presentation?

List three things that differentiate you and your message in a positive way from the competition, and keep them at your fingertips to present them at any time.

7. Sell value. I remember a sign a printing company had on the wall that said:

  • 1. Price
  • 2. Service
  • 3. Quality

(Please Pick Two)

Great quality and outstanding service come at a price. How many times have you got a great deal on a product or service, only to find out later that the product wore out or fell apart, or that the service was nowhere to be found when you called with a question or problem? When customers challenge the price of your product, your company and even you, what they're really saying is, "What am I getting from you that I'm not getting from your competitor for that additional investment?" If someone asked you that today, would you have at least three reasons why you're unique and why they should buy from you? Write down at least three reasons, and memorize them.

8. Follow through. Every customer wants to feel like he or she made a good decision after making a purchase. When you follow up with a call, a thank-you note, materials you promised, or just to ask how the first day went with the new system in place, it ensures that the customer will feel taken care of and not like he or she has been sold.

Review the criteria the customer had prior to making their decision, and when you make your follow-up call after the sale, ask them, "How has our company delivered on your key needs?" Then ask, "What can we do now to keep you as a lifelong customer?" Also be sure to ask what times are best for keeping in touch. With all this information, create customized outlines of long-term follow-up steps for each customer.

9. Create a sense of urgency. Top salespeople seem to always push themselves to move things forward. They're constantly reviewing their accounts and thinking of ways to increase business and get things done. They end every call with a question or statement that will either close the deal or move the sale along. For instance: "Why don't we get together next week and review the product samples as our next step?" Or ask the customer, "What's our next step?" Sometimes we can get overwhelmed with so much activity that we need to ask ourselves every hour: "What can I do right now to make the most productive use of my time?" It's a good idea to put this question in your daily planner.

10. Turn obstacles into opportunities. Great sales-people know rejection comes with the territory. And when you get knocked down, thrown around and beaten up, it has a negative impact on your attitude. What's important is the mental position you take toward a setback or obstacle. As Henry Ford once said, "Failure is the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently." When we run into obstacles, we have to continue to believe in our goals and keep the faith strong. Never, ever give up. A "yes I will" attitude has been responsible for more achievements in this world than anything else because of the belief, faith and commitment attached to it.

I've worked on many projects over the years that would have been easy to give up on when the road got bumpy, but have come through in the end. I received 27 rejections on my first book, more than 50 rejections on a patented writing instrument, and a countless number of rejections while selling a now-world-famous comedian to radio and TV. But deep down, I knew there was value in what I was doing.

I dare you to look at every obstacle, rejection and setback as a time to learn. Next time you face any adversity or challenge that gets in the way of your goals, remember that facing them head-on with action is the key to success. Increase your sales activity; call mentors and others you respect to gather their insights for your next move; make a list of things you can do to get yourself back on track. Whatever you do, don't give up and let obstacles get the best of you. Attacking them with intelligent action will tear them down.

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Barry Farber is the author of 11 books on sales, management and peak performance. His latest release, "Diamond in the Rough" CD program, is based on his book, radio and television show. Visit him at, or email him at

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This article was originally published in the August 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Sales Shape-Up.

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