How are you different from your competitors?

If you aren't asking yourself this question every single day, you may fall behind.

The world changes quickly with continuous innovation from incumbents, market consolidation, new players emerging, and competitors constantly targeting you. Sometimes it may even feel like a new competitor pops up every single day.

How to strategize, align your team, and communicate your message needs to be a constant motion. You cannot just define it once and be done. We all have to constantly revisit how we differ from competition, both internally and externally.

Onboarding and coaching new reps is crucial, but just as they get started, a new competitor will enter the scene. And, how do you tackle this problem?

This topic is always top of mind to Avoma's CEO and Founder Aditya Kothadiya and we thought we would share how we internally approach this problem.

We follow a three layer framework which we will dive into in this blog so you too can learn how to best differentiate your brand and stand out.

Aditya recently sat down with Mor Assouline on his podcast to talk about "How To Outsell Your Competition In A Commoditized Economy?" Check it out for more insights!

The Three-Layered Framework

The Three-Layered Framework for Differentiation is a strategic approach used by businesses to gain a competitive edge in the market. This framework comprises three layers: market differentiation, product differentiation, and go-to-market differentiation.

Three-Layered Framework for Differentiation

Brands should select the most effective channels, develop impactful messaging, and implement well-defined distribution strategies to ensure that the product reaches the target market efficiently and with a competitive advantage.

By effectively leveraging these three layers, businesses can position themselves uniquely in the market and stand out over their rivals.

To truly shine, you've got to be exceptional in at least one area, ideally two or all three.

Market Differentiation

By having a unique perspective and addressing industry-specific challenges, you can establish a strong point of view and create a differentiation strategy that sets you apart from the competition.

When looking at the market, there are a few key factors to consider.

Market Segmentation

First, it's important to identify the segment within the market that you want to focus on. This could be small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), mid-market companies, or larger enterprises. Determine where your strengths lie and where you want to compete based on your team's experience.

Additionally, analyze your competitors and identify gaps in the market. Find out which segment is underserved and take a strategic approach to differentiate yourself from the competition. This will help you shape your competitive advantage.

Targeting Industry Focus

You may also want to consider the industry or industries that could benefit from your product or service. For example, call recording and intelligence solutions have traditionally been used in industries like contact centers and customer support for coaching and training purposes. However, there are other sectors where this technology could be valuable, such as sales and customer success teams, recruitment, or even the medical profession.

Choose your battles wisely by focusing on industries where you have a strong point of view and unique expertise. Consider where your strengths align with the needs of the industry. It's also helpful to assess where your competitors are and identify any industry leaders that may already be well funded or established.

It's important to stay true to your vision and expertise. In our case, we wanted to focus on knowledge professionals who interact with customers, such as salespeople, customer success teams, and professional services personnel. Our differentiation was not just about coaching and training but also capturing valuable information from clients and prospects.

During the pandemic, universities and schools approached us, but we stayed true to our focus on client-facing knowledge professionals and declined those opportunities. However, some of our competitors took advantage of these opportunities in the education sector.

Ultimately, you have to pick your battles and make strategic decisions about where to focus your efforts in the market. By understanding your strengths, differentiating yourself from competitors, and targeting the right industries, you can position yourself for success.

Product Differentiation

Product differentiation revolves around crafting an extraordinary user experience. Be strategic about how you build new features. It's more than just requests from customers, you will need to think about what will increase your moat over competition.

In this blog, we will explain two different product strategies.

Deep Focus vs Tool Bundling

Traditionally, many products have focused on specific aspects of the sales process, leading to a fragmented user experience. There are two approaches you can take with your product: focus deeply on one specific area where you can outperform everyone else, or bundle tools together to provide added value.

Chili Piper stands out as a prime example of a scheduler tool that excels in a specific area: inbound sales. While there are numerous scheduling tools available, Chili Piper's sole focus is on enhancing the sales process. By honing in on this particular aspect, they have emerged as a leader in their field, offering specialized solutions tailored to the unique needs of sales teams.

Apollo tool's, for example, chose to differentiate themselves from ZoomInfo by not only going after SMB, but combining two different tools into one. Historically, ZoomInfo and other providers focused on data provision. Apollo identified a broken experience in this approach. Every person who needs to send emails also needs contact data.

Apollo bundled sales engagement and data provision into a single, integrated solution. By doing so, Apollo aimed to provide a comprehensive solution that addressed the needs of sales teams more effectively. This approach allowed them to differentiate themselves from other providers in the market and offer a unique value proposition to their customers.

What kind of system are you building?

There are three layers brands can add to their SaaS platform - System of Record, System of Engagement, and System of Intelligence. Adding layers can add to your value over competitors who focus on just one.

  • System of Record: A centralized repository that stores and manages essential data within an organization like customer details, financial records, and inventory information. This system ensures data accuracy, consistency, and reliability.
  • System of Engagement: Technologies and platforms that help organizations connect and interact with their customers, employees, and partners. These systems are all about fostering collaboration, communication, and active engagement. From CRM systems to social media platforms and chatbots, they facilitate meaningful interactions and enhance relationships.
  • System of Intelligence: This is where you can leverage advanced technologies like AI and machine learning to provide intelligent insights, automation, and decision-making capabilities. The purpose is to give customers insights, automate tasks, and enhance decision-making capabilities. It enables organizations to extract valuable information, optimize operations, and deliver personalized experiences.
Three layers of a SaaS platform - System of Record, System of Engagement, and System of Intelligence

Businesses and individuals need systems that can not only store and organize data but also extract meaningful insights and provide intelligent recommendations. Systems that can help businesses make better decisions, optimize processes, and ultimately gain a competitive edge in their respective industries.

In summary, product differentiation is key to setting your product apart from competitors. By identifying unique approaches, combining functionalities, and delivering a superior user experience, you can create a compelling value proposition for your customers. Continuously exploring new layers of differentiation is essential to staying competitive.

Go-to-Market Differentiation

When we talk about go-to-market strategies, we are talking about the experience your customer has during the buying journey. How you interact with them, the steps they have to go through, and the support you provide are all important factors in delivering value to your customer.

In order to differentiate yourself from competitors, you must look at every single touchpoint with the customer and make sure it stands out. It could be the very reason you win a deal over a competitor.

These touchpoints can be pivotal in winning deals over competitors, as they contribute to the overall perception and satisfaction of the customer throughout their journey. By optimizing and standing out at each touchpoint, you enhance your chances of setting yourself apart and capturing customer preference.

Product-led versus Sales-led

In today's fast-paced and data-driven world, it's crucial to define the right go-to-market strategy tailored to specific customer personas.

For industries that are primarily sales-led, consider developing a process where customers can bypass the traditional sales cycle and directly join a free trial to start using the product.

By customizing the customer journey based on persona, such as using a product-led approach for SMBs and involving the sales team for mid-market and enterprise customers, you can optimize the experience for each segment.

Offering free trials, removing unnecessary fees, and streamlining the sales process will make your offering more appealing, ultimately leading customers to choose you over the competition.

The key is to create a memorable journey that stands out. If you want to explore the choice between product-led and sales-led approaches further, check out our blog post that will help you decide which strategy is best for your business.

How can sales craft a pitch based on differentiation?

As a salesperson, your role isn't to determine how the product is differentiated; instead, it's about leveraging the differentiation strategy and customizing your pitch to resonate with your target audience. So, let's explore how you can effectively communicate your product's unique value proposition through a carefully crafted sales pitch.

Understand Pain Points and Buyer Personas

Gain a deep understanding of the pain points specific to your audience and buyer personas. Identify their challenges, motivations, and goals to tailor your pitch accordingly. This knowledge enables you to connect with your prospects on a more personal level and address their specific needs.

By tailoring your approach and messaging to their specific pain points, you'll grab their attention and increase your chances of success. It's all about personalization!

Where do they fall on the Buyer Persona Matrix?

Analyze where your buyers fall on the buyer persona matrix. Understand their personalities, preferred buying styles, and the aspects they dislike about the buying process. This information helps you adapt your approach and ensure a smoother and more engaging sales experience.

Buyer Persona Matrix

The Buyer Persona matrix is a valuable tool that helps businesses understand and connect with their target audience. Companies often have their buyer persona defined in their playbook to understand the target audience better. Aligning the approach with the buyer's current situation, such as coming from a competitor, is important.

Factors like customer success experience and buying experience play a role in the buyer's decision-making process. These points indicate the significance of understanding buyer personas, their needs, pain points, and decision-making criteria in effectively positioning products or services in the market.

Assess Different Use Cases

Recognize that buyers may be transitioning from different scenarios, such as currently having no solution or using a competitor.

Understand their current use case and position your product as a superior alternative. Highlight how your offering specifically addresses their pain points and delivers unique benefits, making their decision to choose your product compelling.

Be open and transparent about your competitors and confidently communicate how you're different. Educate your prospects on the distinctive features, benefits, and advantages your product offers compared to alternatives. Focus on the value your product brings and why it matters in solving their pain points.

Emphasize Customer Stories Over Features

Rather than bombarding prospects with a laundry list of features, focus on telling customer stories. Illustrate how your product has transformed the lives or businesses of existing customers. By narrating these stories, you engage your prospects emotionally, making the benefits more relatable and memorable.

Remember, a successful sales pitch is not a one-size-fits-all approach. By understanding your audience, personalizing your message, and leveraging your product's differentiation, you can craft a compelling pitch that speaks directly to the needs and aspirations of your potential buyers.

Creating an Earned Brand Is Not Just Marketing’s Job

Branding plays a pivotal role in establishing a strong market presence, and while paid marketing efforts can be effective, the true power of branding lies in building an earned brand. This involves showcasing your expertise, establishing trust, and engaging with your audience where they are.

By sharing valuable insights and being authentic, you can elevate your personal brand and enhance your reputation within the industry. Remember, branding is not limited to the marketing team alone; it's a collective effort that involves everyone in the organization.

LinkedIn, in particular, offers a valuable platform for nurturing your personal brand and connecting with professionals in your field. By leveraging LinkedIn effectively, you can establish yourself as a thought leader, strengthen your industry presence, and elevate your overall brand impact.

So, don't underestimate the importance of personal branding and embrace the opportunity to shine on LinkedIn and beyond.

In Summary

In a crowded market, standing out is the name of the game. By understanding the three-layered framework of market, product, and go-to-market motion, you can craft a unique value proposition that grabs attention.

When you personalize your approach, listen to customer feedback, and continuously improve your offering, you'll stay ahead of the curve.

So, go out there, rock your brand, and provide exceptional experiences that make the competition tremble. You've got this!

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