Define who you compete with, and how to win.

“Are we truly differentiating ourselves in the market?”


I was recently asked this by the sales leader for a large software company. It was on the heels of losing a multi-million dollar opportunity. The fifth one in the last 90 days.


You have a large quantity of reps under your command. A big difference between winning and losing is differentiating your solution from the competition. You can’t be on every sales call, so how do you know?


If this doesn’t happen, dozens of large opportunities are potentially lost each year. Good news: It’s still early enough in the year and this can help you turn things around quickly.


Start by downloading Sales Leader’s Guide to Competitive Differentiation.


It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


The opportunity to learn differentiation from your failures is vast. Losing 6/10 times, gives you lots of chances to learn. Are you ready to take a look in the mirror?


1. How much value does your sales team create?


Often, it’s clear internally why your solution is superior. You probably hear this all the time from your product team. The problem is the prospect isn’t clear.


Reps struggle to articulate unique value. When it comes time to make a decision, the prospect defaults to price. They view all options as the same. The lowest cost wins because that’s the only point of differention.


If you’re losing on price consistently, sales isn’t building value. This section of the tool will help you uncover this. The result will help you develop training content that delivers results. Rather than teach the same warmed-over garbage as last year, work on their weaknesses.


2. Where in your sales campaigns are you losing?


If you are using a legacy sales methodology, this exercise will expose its flaws. Without the benefit of a prospect buying process, you risk losing. Your reps are selling the way they want to vs. how your prospects buy.


Is your funnel jammed with deals in the “proposal” phase in your CRM? This is a warning sign. Your reps are lobbing quotes over the fence and hoping for a miracle. Yet, no differentiation has been built into the deal, so the competition wins. Use the tool to determine where and why you’re losing.

3. How do you stack up to the competition?


This is a great way to gain insight into how your competition differentiates. In the moment of truth, this will expose your execution gaps. If you can’t beat them consistently, here is how you find out why.


The tool provides a series of criteria to measure you against the best. If you need to fix sales issues, this focuses you on the right things.


How to Use This Tool


You might ask the rep fill out the guide as a template. This is a mistake and a waste of time. Reps will tell you the product was insufficient. Or, your price was too high. This is not insightful and will not help you affect change.


To derive full value, this conversation needs to happen one-on-one with the prospect. If there were multiple buying influences in a deal, interview each of them separately. Each should take about 45 minutes.


Who Should Do This?

This is not a job for the rep or their direct manager. The prospect is unlikely to reveal their true feelings. And, you may end up with biased feedback. Here are a few options for you:


  • VP of Sales (You)
  • Sales Operations
  • Product Management
  • Marketing Operations




For every big deal you lose, request a conversation from each buying team member. What do you have to lose besides more big deals? If you’re looking to differentiate your sales force, start by learning from your failures.




This fundamental activity could exponentially increase the impact of your efforts. You will focus your team on fixing the right things and create true differentiation. As a guide to go deeper, answer the questions in the workbook that outline the standard operating procedures (minimum requirements to not fall behind), best practices (to stay at parity), and emerging best practices (to leapfrog the competition).

Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job





Scott Gruher

Orchestrates and designs the perfect project strategy, one engagement at a time, to ensure that every SBI client makes their number.

Scott joined SBI in 2010 with years of hands-on experience in sales leadership and enterprise selling. Since his arrival, he has helped dozens of organizations dramatically accelerate growth, from Fortune 10 organizations like Phillips 66 to fast-growing cloud service organizations like InfusionSoft. Scott specializes in cross-functional alignment. He helps leaders align around the growth goal and design the right processes to bring the strategy to life. His unique combination of real world experience and a pragmatic approach to problem solving have made him one of SBI’s most demanded resources.

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