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How a Competitive Advantage Can Level Up Your Sales Game

Competitive Advantage: Salesperson holding a light bulb
Innovation, relationship-building, and human-powered outreach can help you turn sales challenges into triumphs. [Skyword]

How do you win customers in today's crowded market? Use your unique strengths to outperform rivals.

In my 30 years of sales experience, I’ve learned a thing or two about winning — and I’m happy to share it all. Let’s explore how innovation, relationship-building, and human-powered outreach can help you turn sales challenges into triumphs, whether you’re trying to break into new markets, retain loyal clients, or simply increase your sales numbers.

Want to win deals? Then you need to understand what makes you stand out from the competition.

What you’ll learn:

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What is a competitive advantage in sales?

A competitive advantage is when you offer more valuable products than your competitors due to pricing, quality, or the ability to reach new markets. When every meeting and pitch count, a competitive advantage isn’t a nice-to-have; it’s essential. A superior product or service is important. But to truly compete, you must use your unique strengths to win over clients and outperform rivals.

What are the benefits of a competitive advantage in sales?

The current sales market is competitive, digital, and crowded. It’s no wonder 69% of sales professionals find selling more challenging than ever before, according to Salesforce’s State of Sales report. But selling doesn’t have to be a slog. By identifying your customers’ needs and your unique strengths, you can offer products that meet and exceed their expectations.

Here are just a few benefits of investing in your competitive advantage.

  1. Greater customer trust and loyalty. When you consistently deliver quality products and services, you build trust with your customers. They start to see you as a reliable partner who understands their needs and exceeds their expectations. In fact, the most recent State of Sales report found that 87% of business buyers expect sales representatives to act as trusted advisors. So, focusing on this aspect of your business could be your most competitive advantage of all.
  2. Increased sales and market share. By offering something that competitors can’t easily replicate, you attract more customers and keep them over time. This not only boosts your bottom line but also solidifies your position in the market as a leader or innovator, making it harder for your competitors to catch up.
  3. Greater pricing power. A competitive advantage can help you charge more for your products or services. When buyers see your offerings as more valuable than those of your competitors, they’re often willing to pay a premium. This higher pricing can increase your profitability and give you the flexibility to adjust prices without worrying about losing volume.
  4. Innovation and adaptability. Continuously striving to improve and differentiate your offerings keeps you ahead of the curve and relevant in the market. This proactive approach also positions you as a future-focused industry player that anticipates and meets future demands.
  5. Resilience against competitive threats. Competitors are inevitable. But a well-established competitive advantage provides a barrier that makes it difficult for others to replicate your success overnight. Strong brand loyalty, exclusive technology, or superior customer relationships can all help you achieve this.

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Examples of competitive advantages in sales

As a sales leader, I’ve learned that the most important thing you can do to stand out is wear your strengths and your uniqueness on your sleeve. The key is knowing what makes you different and using that to your advantage. Here are some examples of companies that have leaned into their competitive advantage to dominate their markets and win over customers:

Product differentiation

A high-end tech manufacturer has consistently maintained a competitive advantage through making eye-catching products that entice customers. Their focus on sleek design, intuitive user interfaces, and seamless integration across devices sets them apart in their fiercely competitive industry.

Convenience and speedy delivery

An online retailer reinvented its market with a customer-first approach. Their competitive advantage lies in speedy delivery through premium membership, personalized recommendations using AI, and a large selection of products.

Exceptional customer service

A web-based footwear retailer earned its loyal customer base by offering free shipping both ways, a generous 365-day return policy, and 24/7 customer support that’s known for its friendliness and effectiveness.

Cost leadership

By operating a no-frills service with efficient turnaround times at airports, a low-cost airline keeps operational expenses down. This allows them to offer affordable fares while still turning a profit — a key factor in attracting budget-conscious travelers and maintaining profitability.

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How to gain a competitive advantage in sales

Get a handle on what sets you apart from the competition. Understand your value proposition — what features, services, or pricing you can offer customers that they’ll really value. Who is your target market? Who are your competitors? With this information, you can create a sales strategy that will help you stand out. I believe the best way is to emphasize human connection. Here’s how:

Personalized outreach and engagement

As a sales leader, I’ve gotten upward of 2,000 messages on LinkedIn this year alone. I only responded to one: the sole rep who took the time to personalize his email, referencing a recent LinkedIn post of mine and connecting that to how their product could benefit me. They didn’t make unrealistic promises about increasing sales or fixing every problem I had. They showed they cared by trying to understand my business needs. This personalized approach earned my respect. And it will help you keep customers engaged from your company’s initial outreach to after the deal closes.

Listening and understanding

I talk to a lot of sales reps who rely too much on hitting targets instead of fully understanding what motivates their customers. Which probably explains why the State of Sales report found that almost 75% of sales reps don’t hit their quotas. Asking insightful questions and carefully listening to the answers can give you a real advantage.

Recently, I worked with a software as a service (SaaS) company that took the time to ask their customers about their biggest challenges. The businesses mentioned revenue and key performance indicators (KPIs), of course, but they also revealed they were struggling with AI integration, staff retention, and mental health issues. By listening to customers, this company uncovered the real issues. And with these insights, they tailored their solutions to the problem and position themselves as trusted advisors, not just salespeople.

Continuous learning and adaptation

Upskilling isn’t just about mastering new technologies or tools; it’s about evolving your understanding of customer needs and market dynamics and helping your sales team gain the skills they need. With a focus on sales enablement, you ensure that your reps have the coaching, training, and technology to excel.

Technology and automation have their place in sales strategies. It’s important to update your customer relationship management system to give everyone a full picture of the customer and anticipate their needs — and using one powered by AI helps a lot. But the true competitive advantage in sales lies in authentic connection with customers. By investing in skills training, you’re investing in your reps, your customers, and your future.

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How to maintain a competitive advantage in sales

Building a competitive advantage isn’t just about winning new business; it’s about nurturing and maintaining relationships that are already thriving. Here are some strategies to keep in mind.

Over-deliver on customer experience

Take the initiative to do this in every interaction. Whether it’s sending your customer a birthday card or surprising them with a handwritten note or a gift, these personal touches set you apart. They show clients that their success matters beyond just closing a deal. In return, clients are more likely to remain loyal, even amid competitive pressures.

Harness the power of testimonials and referrals

Seek feedback from satisfied clients, and use their testimonials to showcase your expertise and reliability. LinkedIn recommendations, for example, serve as social proof that can impress potential customers. And asking clients for referrals based on who could genuinely benefit from your services not only expands your network, but also reinforces your reputation as a trusted advisor.

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Stay connected and compete to win

Sales is all about standing out by making a connection. That’s a true competitive advantage — one offering increased customer loyalty, bigger margins, and better brand recognition. All you need to do is get in touch in a way that resonates.

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