Quickly now, write down three things that differentiate your company from your competition. Now, imagine I ask your competitors the same question. Do you think their answers might sound pretty similar?
If we are honest most of us would answer "yes" to that question. What used to be areas of differentiation in most industries and segments of business are now just your "ticket to the game" or fundamental expectations of anyone in your line of work. The proliferation of "me too for less" competition has caused a state of perceived commoditization that can squeeze both market share and profit margins.
We can blame the internet, consolidation of competition or any number of factors but the fact remains the same. It is much harder for most companies to gain differentiation in 2014 than it was in 1994 or even 2004. That's the bad news.
Here is the good news! Every small advantage your company can gain becomes increasingly magnified because of this simple rule. The more everything seems the same when evaluating buying choices the more importance is assigned to even the smallest areas of TRUE differentiation. I am not referring to "our people care more than the competition" because in reality they probably don't. I am talking about honest to goodness differentiation. If you can't find it then you had better start sharpening your pricing pencil!
Be honest with yourself and take a critical, non-biased look at your company and the competition. What do you REALLY do that is a true point of differentiation that makes you legitimately unique. What are even the most minor things that prospects truly value that can help your firm gain even the slightest edge in turning prospects into customers.
It isn't easy is it? Probably not, but it is certainly worth the effort. Once you find your TRUE points of differentiation, own them in your marketing and selling efforts.