Why be different when you can be the same as everyone else?

Why stand-out when you can blend in?

Why is blending in so much easier?

Why is standing out from the competitive crowd often viewed as risky business?

It all starts with your childhood. Now, I'm not a shrink but I do think it goes all the way back to when we were kids. I mean most kids - probably not the neighborhood bully. Speaking of neighborhood bullies, I wonder what they're all doing today?

Never mind that! When I was a kid I wanted to fit in with the other kids and maybe you did too. I Wanted to belong to a group of kids. I think that's normal. However, this desire to fit in and belong, and not make waves doesn't serve us well later in life - especially when you're selling.

I remember being in junior high school. There was a boy named Russell. He was tall and lanky. He wore funny glasses. He didn't seem to be well coordinated. I guess by today's standards he looked a little nerdy. He was always by himself because he was different.

Back then, when I was a kid, it was no fun being different from everyone else.

Fast forward a whole bunch of years. I'll tell you being different is where the action is especially if you're an entrepreneur or a professional sales representative. Unfortunately not everybody understands this - I guess it's because we've been trying to blend in since we were kids.

Don't focus on the similarities among you and your competitors. Instead, concentrate on the differences.

It's time for change. Stop blending in and start standing-out. Being different pays better too. Keep that in mind.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking seriously about the art of differentiation in your sales territory.

1. Talk different. I'd give anything, almost anything, to have a genuine/authentic British accent. Nothing makes you sound more different than a good accent. I was born in Brooklyn and so I have a slight accent. Okay - it's not slight, it's Brooklyn. Now get this, for the longest time I tried to hide my Brooklyn accent. When I moved to Chicago not a single day went by without someone pointing out the fact that I had a Brooklyn accent.

So instead of accepting my different accent I try to avoid it, until one day I realized my accent made me different. Botta bing, botta boom!

2. Look different. In one of my sales training classes last week a woman told me her shoes make her different. Apparently she has quite a collection and her customers recognize this as a point of difference. It could be a very unique/handmade briefcase. It could be bow ties for men. It could be a very unique and eye-catching fountain pen. It could be you always favor one color. It could be anything you want it to be.

3. Do different. Do things in a different way. You have developed a signature way to end every sales call. Many years ago NBC had an evening news program starring Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Every night they ended their program with "Goodnight Chet. Goodnight David. And goodnight for NBC News." It was their signature. It worked for them and it can certainly work for you.

4. Prepare different. Being prepared doesn't take the fun out of being spontaneous. In fact being prepared makes your spontaneity more appreciated. Prepare written sales call objectives. Prepare and practice the benefits of your products and services. Prepare and practice how you will handle the dreaded price objection. You can also prepare "Knock your socks off" sales proposals.

5. Ask different questions. Try asking questions that don't include "Ahs" and "Ums." This is almost impossible to do when your questions aren't prepared prior to the sales call. When you ask a question and the customer responds "What do you mean" that's a clear indication it wasn't a very good question. FYI - the whole concept of asking fabulous open-ended questions is the centerpiece for all my sales training programs.

Ask this question and see what kind of response you get. "What would it take to win your supplier of the year award?" And remember the better the question, the better the response will be.

6. A.B.T.D.T. Always be trying different things. Look for the differences in people and things. Note what works and what doesn't work. Try taking small chances on a daily basis. Try doing things a little different on a daily basis.

Just be different . . .

Send 3-5 handwritten notes to internal and external customers every day.

=> Thank everyone personally who helps you make a sale.

=> Use a fountain pen with blue ink to write these notes.

=> Send birthday cards with the sound of music.

=> Do one good deed everyday.

=> Order personalized M&Ms.

=> Be positive!

=> Yes I can!

If you dare to be different and start selling what's different, the road to success is right around the corner.

Author's Bio: 

Jim is a former U.S. army officer serving in Germany and was a Public Information Officer on a General’s Staff while serving in Vietnam.

He was also VP of Sales and Marketing for the Scientific Products Division of Baxter International.

Jim has been nominated to the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame four times.

Jim has been in business 20.5 years . . . has 514 corporate clients . . . 83.3% repeat business