Do you ever find you’re over-qualified for a job, yet undercut by a cheaper, less experienced company?
Or, perhaps you are the one “buying the job” with no margin. Either way, you probably have a differentiation problem. It seems commonplace for excellent providers to struggle to win work, not able to communicate their marketing point of difference. This seems especially true for those in professional services (or anyone with an intangible offering).
Unless a buyer has significant experience with what they are purchasing, they may not understand the true value of what they are getting. This can even be true after they have bought and used it! So, how do you reveal this value upfront during the sales process?
Management strategist and author, Michael Porter, summarises this challenge in his book, The Competitive Advantage.
“Buyers often do not know what they should be looking for in a supplier. While buyers are likely to understand direct impacts, they fail to recognise indirect impacts or the ways other supplier activities other than the product affect them.”
He goes on to offer a solution…
“In the absence of fully understanding the value of your services, buyers look for ‘Signals of Value’. This is a reflection of any aspect or touchpoint a buyer has had with your company. This includes advertising, reputation, packaging, professionalism, appearance, facilities, personality of employees, and the information provided in the sales presentation to infer the value a firm will or may create. These are termed Signals of Value.
Buyers will not pay for something they do not perceive; no matter how real the value it may be. Therefore, the price premium a firm commands is a reflection of the value of the offering and the value to which it is perceived.”
This a helpful reminder that sometimes the challenge is not in how to improve marketing activities, but to recognise that every activity is marketing.
— Scott Ingram, Director