“In Sales Differentiation, Lee delivers a fine addition to his line of outstanding sales reference tools. It’s straight forward, packed full of real world examples, and presented in a fresh unique way as only Lee can. He not only addresses many common sales myths and barriers but provides examples and detailed processes to help you differentiate your products and services in a way that will catch a buyer’s attention.”
— Larry Reeves, CEO, American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (“AA-ISP”)
“Salespeople know that differentiation is a best practice but have been left to their own devices to figure out how to do it… until now. Sales Differentiation presents strategies that salespeople can quickly put into practice.”
— Verne Harnish, founder Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) and author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)
Fantastic and strategic
“In a sea of businesses and salespeople competing in the same spaces for the same dollars, being different is the only way to get an edge on your competition. Lee Salz has penned a fantastic and strategic book that gives salespeople the formula to do just that. Simply put, this book is not only incredibly useful, it’s different.”
— Ken Kupchik, author of The Sales Survival Handbook and creator of Sales Humor
Deals at the prices
“Lee Salz’s sales differentiation strategies are just what you need to stand out in a crowded market, create more meaningful conversations, and close more deals at the prices you want.”
— Jill Konrath, author of "More Sales Less Time" and "SNAP Selling"
“I find many salespeople forget that they have an opportunity to stand-out from the competition in the way they sell so instead they fight to win sales on price. Lee’s book will help ensure that doesn’t happen to you.”
— Brandon Steiner, CEO and founder of Steiner Sports Marketing
Simple and effective
“Sales Differentiation is full of ideas that will immediately help you win more business. For example, Lee’s Sales Crime Theory – do your investigating before you make the sales call – is so simple and effective yet a large majority of sales executives think that doing one’s homework is finding a phone number or at best, visiting a prospect’s website. Lee gives you easy-to-implement ideas that will ensure you are relevant, that give you permission to ask challenging questions, that give you an edge in negotiations, and that separate you from just about every salesperson in every sales call, every time.”
— Sam Richter, World’s Leading Expert on Sales Intelligence and CEO SBR Worldwide / Know More
“Lee Salz says it’s not just what you sell, but how you sell it. His 19 sales differentiation strategies are a surefire way to drive profitable sales.”
— Harvey Mackay, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller 'Swim with The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive'
Comprehensive and compelling
“Everyone agrees that sales differentiation is a good thing, but no one has ever explained exactly what, why and how to truly become differentiated. Until now. Sales Differentiation is a comprehensive and compelling look at an often-overlooked strategy for sales success.”
— Deb Calvert, author, Stop Selling & Start Leading and DISCOVER Questions®
Filled with dozens
“Filled with dozens of proven concepts as well as highly-relatable stories, this book shows that salespeople who differentiate themselves not only win more deals, but they also win at higher margins. It is a brilliant and practical how-to guide for salespeople at every level. If you want to escape the high penalty that comes from the buyer’s perception of sameness, this book is your key to success.”
— Gerhard Gschwandtner, CEO, Selling Power magazine
“When I was creating the Rainforest Café, I sought to create a differentiated diner experience. In Sales Differentiation, Lee Salz provides you with the strategies to create a differentiated experience for your clientele. I highly recommend it for anyone in sales.”
— Steven Schussler, creator and founder of Rainforest Cafe, T-REX, Yak & Yeti and The Boathouse all featured at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL
Refer my clients
“Lee Salz is the E. F. Hutton of customer acquisition. When Lee speaks, you should listen. In an over-crowded, over supplied world, Lee’s insights into differentiating yourself by how you sell ring fresh and true. I regularly refer my clients to Lee and wait for the accolades to come streaming in – which they always do. Lee Salz’s methods are practical and they work!”
— Bill Mills, CEO, Executive Group, Inc.
“A treasure chest of practical, tactical, and doable ways to differentiate yourself from the competition! Read it… Use it!”
— Anthony Parinello, author of "Selling to VITO, The Very Important Top Officer"
“As I’ve traveled around the world over the past several years working with companies and their salespeople, I’ve been amazed to find that they do not know, and cannot articulate, their competitive advantage! How can a company or salesperson expect prospects and customers to give their time and attention if they do not understand,clearly and concisely, what that company can do for them that no one else can do? So, how can you demonstrate your competitive advantage? Buy Sales Differentiation by Lee Salz, read it page by page, implement its 19 strategies and you will then be able to set yourself apart from your competition and clearly show your customers what your company can do for them that no one else can do.”
— Dr. Tony Alessandra, author of "Collaborative Selling: How to Gain the Competitive Advantage in Sales"
“Finally a book that addresses differentiation in a step by step manner that allows salespeople to apply what they learn, immediately. The practical easy to read format and examples to drive the point home are exceptional. Get this book in the hands of every salesperson you know.”
— Alice Heiman, Founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC
Implementing the concepts
“I. Love. Everything. About. This. Book. Lee Salz not only powerfully describes why DIFFERENTIATION is so critical, but he shows you exactly how to differentiate yourself, your sales approach, and your messaging. Implementing the concepts in Sales Differentiation will get you more meetings with the right buyers, elevate how they view you and your solution, and help you close more business.”
— Mike Weinberg - author of the "New Sales. Simplified." and "Sales Management. Simplified."
Opening doors to winning
“Sales Differentiation shows how salespeople are more important than ever in terms of adding value and differentiating their product or service from the competition. The concepts presented by Lee Salz will help you in every phase of the sales process – from opening doors to winning deals at the prices you want. Make sure you have a pen, paper, and highlighter in hand when you read this book.”
— Paul Nolan, Editor, Sales & Marketing Management magazine
World sales success
“Here’s the path to no longer hear the price objection ever again, as well as rendering your competitors as irrelevant. Lee Salz, in Sales Differentiation, shares his decades of real world sales success so all can now reap the rewards. Don’t read this book – DEVOUR it!”
— Jack Daly, CEO / Entrepreneur / Coach and Best Selling Business Author
Compel your dream
“If you want to compel your dream clients to change, you have to be different in a way that makes a difference. Lee Salz has written a comprehensive guide to differentiating your offering in a crowded, me-too marketplace. More importantly, this book will help you do the critical work of differentiating yourself!”
— Anthony Iannarino, Author of "Eat Their Lunch: Winning Clients Away from Your Competitors"
Actionable and easy
“In a sales world with so much noise, Lee’s book stands out just like his teachings. It’s actionable and easy to read, made for any level of sales professional.”
— Max Altschuler, Max Altschuler, CEO Sales Hacker & Author of "Hacking Sales"
“Sales Differentiation is filled with great examples that are perfect for both beginning salespeople looking to develop their skills and experienced salespeople seeking to take their sales results to the next level!”
— Dawn Deeter, Ph.D., director, Kansas State University National Strategic Selling Institute
“Lee Salz has written a different sales book about how YOU can be a different sales professional to help you sell more. It’s a common trap that a lot of salespeople fall into, all saying the same things, trying the same strategies and selling in the same way. The problem is that doesn’t often work and it’s usually those who do it differently that win. This book is brilliantly written and talks you through how you make WHAT you sell different and the WAY you sell different to win more deals. I’ve read a lot of sales books over the years, but none have given such a great process that I know I’ll be able to use straight away.”
— Daniel Disney, Founder of The Daily Sales and Leading Social Selling Trainer
Entertaining writing style
“In today’s sales environment where buyers are subjected to more sales ‘noise’ than ever, Sales Differentiation is a must-read (and must-implement) for any salesperson who wants to stand out and excel. With Lee’s engaging, entertaining writing style, peppered with numerous stories and examples, you’ll find yourself reading the book quickly. But, you’ll want to go through it again several times to absorb, highlight, and write down the many valuable how-to’s to use on your own calls.”
— Art Sobczak, Author of “Smart Calling”
Detailing multiple strategies
“Finally, a definitive approach on what it means to differentiate yourself and what you sell. Lee Salz has done a masterful job of detailing multiple strategies you can use now to genuinely set yourself apart in the eyes of your customers. The value in the book is in his examples, which allow you to understand what you need to do to create a sales differential your customers will notice and, more importantly, pay for! This isn’t a book to simply read. It’s a book to read and apply. You won’t regret it!”
— Mark Hunter, CSP, “The Sales Hunter,” author of “High-Profit Prospecting”
Candidate screening is one of the most difficult tasks that recruiters and managers face. Most will tell you that screening sales talent is the toughest of all. Why? Sales people are trained in the art of persuasion. They know how to provide the desired responses to the questions. Even more daunting is when you are interviewing sales people that worked for a competitor. These sales people know the language and industry buzz words making it even more challenging to screen them. Fret not! It is possible to successfully screen sales talent, but there is work to be done before you even look at a résumé.
The most important step a company can take is to develop a sales talent screening program. This helps bring focus to the initiative. The mission of this program is to provide data that allows for the measurement of the candidate pedigree versus the desired profile. Think in terms of formulating a marriage, a sales marriage, that is.
This program should be fully documented showing step-by-step the components of the screening program. It is best to define who will be interviewing the candidates and their role in the interview process. It should define the tools that will be used as well as their purpose. Below are seven key components of an effective sales talent screening program.
1. Ideal Sales Person Profile. It has always surprised me how many companies have fully documented profiles of their ideal client. Yet, few have a profile of their ideal sales person. How can you screen when you don’t know for what you are screening? Many of you have a clear picture in mind of the profile of your ideal mate. My bet is most of your close friends can rattle off your profile in a heartbeat. The same principle applies to sales talent. If you don’t know exactly what you are looking for, how will you find it?
This profile should be fully detailed. Some of the areas to address in the profile are the experience you expect that candidate to already have, the skills that the candidate should already possess, and the skills you are not willing to teach. Truth is, this is an extensive topic about which I have dedicated another article.
The lack of a fully-defined profile of the ideal sales person is the most common cause of bad sales marriages. It is also the major point of frustration between sales managers and recruiters. Recruiters often tell me that they feel they are throwing darts while blindfolded because they have so little detail about the desired profile.
2. Always Be Recruiting. In sales, there is an old expression. “The toughest time to make a sale is when you really need one.” The same holds true for recruiting. When a slot is open on the sales team, it becomes an all hands on deck exercise to fill it. While the seat is open, revenue targets are in jeopardy. This leads many to forget the profile of the ideal sales person profile in the interest of filling a seat. Playing this forward a bit, the seat becomes vacant again a short time later when either side determines that it is not a good fit.
Sales recruiting is a year-round exercise. The best sales forces are always on the look out for strong sales talent. Find a company that identifies a strong candidate that meets their profile who wouldn’t find a way to hire this individual. It is a rarity to say the least. Sales teams have turnover either driven by the company or the employee. It is best to have a candidate portfolio at the ready than to begin a process of surfacing candidates when a seat is open. Poor hiring decisions are made out of desperation to fill a seat. The open seat is a cost to the company every day it is unfilled. Yet, the cost is more painful if the seat is filled by someone who doesn’t fit.
3. Reverse Interviewing. Since the intent of the process is for both sides to be able to determine if a marriage should be formulated, a wonderful technique is reverse interviewing. This is an interview performed by a member of the sales team who would be a peer if the candidate was hired. It is important that the individual(s) selected to participate in this step are loyal to the company, knowledgeable, and make a favorable impression. However, the “interviewer” does not ask any questions of the candidate. As you know, it is very easy to get yourself in hot water if illegal questions are asked. Thus, you don’t want untrained people asking questions. There are two purposes of this component of the sales talent screening program. The first is to provide the candidate with an opportunity to ask questions of someone who would be their peer if they were to be hired. In essence, it is a way for them to get a picture of a day in the life of this job.
The second purpose is to measure how the candidate prepares for a sales call. A debrief is conducted with the “reverse interviewer” to see what questions were asked. If the candidate took advantage of this opportunity, they brought prepared, insightful questions and wrote down answers. If they didn’t, what kind of preparation will the candidate do for a sales call? How interested are they really in this job? Every once in a while, a candidate will ask a question of the sales person like, “Can you take off at noon on Fridays?” Needless to say, the lapse in judgment raises a red flag of concern?
4. Standard Interview Questions. Often times, many candidates are screened for one job slot. This creates a need to be able to compare candidates to each other, in addition to the profile. To do this, a standard set of interview questions are needed. The responses are documented during the interview and reviewed after a candidate leaves the office. These questions are not designed to provide right or wrong answers. They are designed to see if this candidate’s thought process is congruent with the needs of your business and with the profile of the ideal sales person.
When formulating your list of standard questions, it is helpful to include some sales scenarios that are common in your environment. “Your client balks at the price of your proposal. What do you do?” It is also helpful to have questions that show what makes this person tick. Since few colleges have “sales” as a major, it is always interesting to find how someone arrived at a sales career. “Of all of the careers you could select, why did you pick sales?”
The hot topic in today’s recruiting world is behavioral interviewing which is a powerful tool. Behavioral interviewing, also called competency-based interviewing, focuses on past behavior. As a doctor friend of mine always says, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. The idea here is not to ask arbitrary questions, but rather to ask questions that help to expose areas that affect the sales marriage. If your company is always changing, you might want to determine how the candidate handles change. “Please share with me a time where you had to adapt to change.” Like with any good interview, additional probing is necessary to get to the root of the issue. “How did you deal with that? What did you learn from the experience?”
You can probably imagine just how hard it is to formulate questions that demonstrate if this marriage will work if you don’t have a profile against which to compare. Not sure what to ask? Download Top 100 Salesperson Interview Questions.
5. Mock Sales Call. What better way to see if someone fits into your company’s selling environment than to put them right in it! To do this effectively, you need to create a scenario for the candidate. I’ve found it most beneficial to give the candidate the scenario with one day’s notice so they can prepare. They should be provided with the same amount of information a sales person in your company normally has before making an initial sales call.
Those members of your company who participate in the exercise should be somewhat scripted. I say “somewhat” because you don’t want it to be so dry that it is unrealistic, but without any scripting it can be hard to stay in character.
The last piece you need to do this well is a score sheet. Know what you are looking to measure in the process and score accordingly. Can they conduct a thorough needs analysis? Did they identify the challenges faced by this prospect? Would you buy from them?
It is best if the scoring is done by a non-participant of the mock sales call. It is very distracting for the candidate if someone jots notes while they are speaking. What happens is that the candidate spends the rest of the exercise trying to read what was written.
6. Online Assessment Testing. There are a myriad of tools that are very helpful in the screening process for both personality and skill. Where some err is in the application of the data from these tools. Few, if any, of the online assessment companies suggest that their tool should be used to make a hire/no hire decision. The most appropriate application is to treat it as an additional data point in the sales talent screening program.
7. The Ultimate Screening Tool. Writing is a lost art. Yet, we are more dependent on written communication than ever before. Email! Is there anything worse than a poorly written email that is sent to a prospect? It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, your company now looks sloppy and unprofessional.
An effective technique for screening sales talent is the use of the mini-business plan. When the candidate has satisfactorily completed all of the other steps of the pre-offer process, the request is made for a one-page business plan that shows how they would approach the job. I mention three times that I’m only looking for a one-page plan and ask when they can send it to me. It is important that the submission date be asked of the candidate, not the other way around as you will see in a moment.
Of all of the techniques that I have used over the years, this is the one where I have the most candidate fall out and I was always happy to learn that this sales marriage wouldn’t work, before it was formulated.
This technique allows you to evaluate a number of important areas:
Can they communicate in written form coherently? If you were a client receiving this document, what message do you get about its author?
Do they understand what the role entails? Since this component is performed late in the process, they should have a clear picture of the job and expectations.
Is their approach consistent with the expectations of management? It is best to know now if you don’t feel comfortable with their game plan.
Can they meet a self-imposed deadline? If the plan is late, the candidate is no longer considered for the role.
Can they follow directions? I asked for a one-pager, not an epic.
Having a sales talent screening program has many benefits. The most obvious impact is a longer sales tenure of your sales team which means an increase in sales performance and a reduction in personnel turnover. This can do nothing short of helping the bottom line of any company.