« Back To All Posts

Want to avoid being a commodity? Here’s how

Do you have a product that is becoming more of a commodity?

Imagine you sell gasoline. The guy across the street raises his by a penny. You can raise yours by a penny. He drops his by a penny. You have to drop yours by a penny. Just to see where we are, you both sell an unleaded fuel. You both have a 92 octane fuel. The same product. It comes in a truck and gets pumped into your tanks. You’ve got certain government regulations that you have to deal with, but you are commoditized.

You have to understand, regardless of the offering that you have in the marketplace, it’s an offering. It’s not a product or a service, because a product or a service comes with different things attached to it.

There are always components of your offering that can help it stand out from that of your competition. The first and the biggest and the main component of your offering, is you.

What do you bring to the table to create a perception of value that would drive the margin for your company up a bit? What do you bring to the equation that brings an extra penny, an extra dollar here or there?

What’s your “only me value,” something that you offer as a sales professional that all your competition either can’t or won’t? Something that I’d be willing to pay a premium for if I were a customer.

Take a look at the fuel company, for example. In every sale this organization makes, there are a certain things they have to look at:

  • There’s delivery: when and how.
  • There’s pre-sale or pre-delivery questioning: when they want it, how they want it, where they want it, who’s going to be there, time of day.
  • There’s post-sale service, or after sale value-add services.

Now, this is a big umbrella. There are terms of payment. There’s negotiated rate. There are special-delivery incentives. There are lots of things.

If you were to stack up all the components of the offering of your product or service versus the components that your competitors have in their offering, there’s going to be some differences.

So you put it in a grid, and you check off the ones that you have; you check off the ones that they have. You step back and you take a look at it, and you now say, “All right. Which one of these, or ones of these, matter to my customer to the point where they’d be willing to pay a little extra for it?”

I’d venture to say that the majority of the answers are going to come down to things that are tied directly to you. To your activities, to your actions, communication with the customer. To your value add-services.

What do you do to help them look better to their customers? What is it that you do to help their customers succeed a bit more? How is it that you can help them achieve their highest value needs?

Remember this: Nobody truly wants to buy what you’re selling anyway.

What they want is to apply your product or service somewhere in their business or their personal life to help them achieve a benefit. If you talk to them about the benefit that they receive, they’ll have a much better way of relating to the value that you bring to the table.

For instance, if you sell insurance policies… Heck, I can go online to all these different rate quoting sites, and I can find out how much I should pay, and that’s it, end of story. But if it’s truly all about price, there wouldn’t be millions of insurance agents out there in the marketplace.

See, I don’t want to buy insurance in the first place. But if I find an agent who’s willing to converse with me about what’s important to me… which is not ownership of the policy. I don’t want in the first place! They talk to me about my future. They talk to me about where I want to go. They talk to me about what I want to accomplish. They talk to me about what happens if: what happens if this, what happens if that.

What product are you delivering to your customers? If you talk the commodity game, you get the commodity pricing. Thus, you get thrown in a barrel of monkeys with everybody else.

Photo by exquisitar, via Creative Commons 2.0