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Sales Make it Happen

"Me-too" players

I remember sitting in my office over a period of years when sales representatives from a well known, Midwest funding source visited me at least four times during any given year. They all were young, bright, enthusiastic salespeople who I would love to have invited to a holiday party. They were not, unfortunately, of much value to me in the business. Why? They and their company were "me too" players who suffered from a lack of real identity.

After exchanging obligatory pleasantries, the sales reps would invariably ask the same question: "So, how can we do more business with your company?" My reply would always be the same: "You're the fundor, you should know this business better then me. You're from the " show me state ," so why don't you show me how to increase the business I do with you? The polite, young salespeople would laugh nervously. I explained that a significant percentage of our business was done with another large, well known funding source, then located in the Pacific Northwest. They were stable, had competitive pricing, though not always the lowest by any means, had predictable credit and funding policies, were responsive and were, above all, highly predictable and dependable. What else could I want? The nice salespeople from the Midwest fundor did their best to then "pitch" me. "We're stable and our pricing is competitive too, they would say. Our credit and funding policies are competitive too! We're responsive, highly predictable and dependable too! And, we're nice people, too!" Me too, me too, me too! What they may never have realized is that without differentiation, they looked like they were trying their best to look exactly like their major competitor! Customers aren't likely to switch their allegiance from their current suppliers to your company if you appear to be the mirror image of your competitors. It's always difficult to truly stand out from the competition, but failure to do so sounds the death knell for countless firms. Next week we'll explore a process for creating differentiation by identifying your company's "exclusive strengths."

--- from the desk of a retired, successful leasing company president.