Back in 2000, I was 28 years old and sitting in the front row at a sales conference in Indianapolis.
Tom Batchelder, the author of “Selling 180” was speaking. He pointed to me and looked at my name badge and he said, “Brandon, why should people buy from you as opposed to anyone else inside your organization?”
And he handed me the mic. Talk about being on the spot. I didn’t know what to say.
“Well, I’m not really sure they should,” I muttered. “They could buy from my president and he can make discounts. And there are others in the industry who have been around longer and maybe they should buy from them.”
I’ll never forget what he said next. He looked at me and he said, “Brandon, until you know your personal value and you can articulate it, your clients will never know the value you bring personally.”
Time for some soul searching
Knowing and articulating your personal value is essential to avoiding the commoditization trap.
The commoditization trap is when you look, sound and act so much like every other sales rep that it can be almost impossible to tell you apart. When you become a commodity, you have no unique value. You are competing on price alone, and that is a bad place to be.
So how do you know your personal value?
Well, unfortunately there’s no Kelley Blue Book for salespeople. You can’t just log onto a website, plug your metaphorical make, model and mileage and have it spit out an answer.
Nor do the same old answers work either.
If you think your value is in the fact that you are honest, offer great service, and have years of experience, think again. Don’t get me wrong, they are all admirable qualities. Believe it or not, honest salespeople who offer great service and years of experience are a dime a dozen. We are all out there just trying to balance our personal success with our clients success.
Those tired answers also make for an underwhelming introduction.
“Hi. My name is Brandon, and I won’t pick your pocket,” isn’t exactly a deal closer.
Instead, you need to do some soul searching. Think back on your life. Not just your career, but your entire life. Ask yourself these types of questions.
- What have I experienced that enables me to connect with my clients?
- What do I believe that enables me to help clients?
- What have I learned about life that makes me a better salesperson?
- What processes do I use that enable me to better serve my customers?
- What do my clients say is the best thing about doing business with me?
- Why do I stand out?
You’ll notice some commonalities in these questions. The focus isn’t so much on what you do (we all do variations on the same thing after all), but on how and why you do it.
Additionally, knowing yourself from your client’s point of view is critical. And, in general, the more you communicate with prospects using the words and stories from your clients, the more believable you are.
There are no shortcuts
Tom Batchelder was kind to me that day.
He reassured me that 99 percent of his clients can’t answer the same question he asked me.
I’ve since found my personal value, but don’t expect me to share with you what it is. Not that I’m a particularly private person. It’s that I don’t want to influence your thinking. My story is not your story. There are no shortcuts in life, and mimicking my value won’t enhance your own.
Personal value is just that—personal. You need the world to see you as a human being and not just another business card.
So get out there and find your personal value. It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding.