The four ‘C’s – how to differentiate your offer in a crowded market

Feb 5, 2018 | Blog, Differentiation from competitors, Key Client Management

Whether you are selling engineering, consultancy or legal services, the climate can be harshly competitive. Annabel Miller highlights one of the biggest challenges: of being able to differentiate your offer to that of your competitors.

In most cases our competitors are technically as good as we are, many also have the track record and experience that clients are looking for. There may be a difference in the fees they charge compared to you but as long as we’re comparing apples with apples there’s unlikely to be a lot of difference in the price either.

 

So how do we answer the question ‘Why choose us’ in the mind of the client?

There are things we can do and say that will firmly differentiate us and our offer and they are not “we’re better than them” or “we’re cheaper than them”. They fall into the following categories:

  • Curiosity
  • Courage
  • Conviction
  • Confidence

By demonstrating these four things you will firmly position yourself and your solution, head and shoulders above your competitors.

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Curiosity

An innate sense of professional curiosity is an essential skill that the best business developers have naturally. Really understanding your client, their challenges, their objectives (including personal KPIs) their hopes, fears and aspirations will provide you with the intelligence to be proactive and genuinely help your client.

Courage

There are times when we know better than our client, after all, this is our area of expertise. Having the courage (and tact) to push back on clients’ wishes is something Trusted Advisors do but be wary – you have to earn the right to challenge your client. We also have to be courageous in other areas, for example, only bidding for opportunities we know we have a really good chance of winning, asking for referrals, picking up the phone to a potential new client etc.

Conviction

Linked to courage we have to stand by our beliefs and our ethos. We must stand for something and be known for it. An example of this is a firm of engineering consultants we work with, who are known for the quality of their design. They refuse to compromise in this area, and will not cut corners when submitting a proposal which means sometimes they price themselves out of a project.

Confidence

This comes across in every interaction with clients, from how we come across on our website and marketing material to our discussions with clients and prospects, and our proposals. Clients like to work with people who are confident in themselves and their offer. Beware though, people do not warm to arrogance and there is a fine line between the two.

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