A few years ago, a massive storm came through the neighborhood where I live. It hit during the middle of the afternoon and turned day into night. Winds blew at speeds I had never experienced before. These were straight-line winds with speeds in excess of 80 mph which, had they been funneled, would have classified as a tornado.

My home backs up to woods and I could see through the darkness…massive trees falling and breaking. The morning after the storm, I looked at my backyard and saw a disaster. Huge trees and large limbs had turned my fence into scrap metal.

As my wife likes to remind me, I’m not handy. But this also wasn’t the type of mess that you have some friends help clean up. I needed to hire a professional company to handle it. After contacting my insurance company, I researched and found three tree service companies to bid on the project.

The first salesperson arrived, looked at my yard for a few minutes and quoted me his price… $5,000.

The second salesperson wandered my yard for an hour shaking his head. He kept muttering to himself, “This is a big job.” His price was $12,500…two and a half times the price of the first company. Perhaps, he thought I was asking him to build a log cabin out of the downed trees.

The third company’s representative walked the yard for a few minutes and said he could have the trees cleaned up for $3,000.

Who got the deal?


Given that I just published a book titled Sales Differentiation, you are thinking I bought from the first or second salesperson. After all, buying cheap would make me a hypocrite.

Guess what? The third salesperson, the one with the cheapest price, got the deal and I’m no hypocrite.

None of these salespeople differentiated themselves in any way from the others. They all looked at the pile of trees and branches and gave me a price. They didn’t raise any important considerations when selecting a service provider for the job. They didn’t ask me any questions that would help me make an informed decision. They just tossed out a price hoping to get the work.

“Price is the ultimate decision-factor in the absence of differentiation.”

I share this concept with audiences when I talk about sales differentiation. These three salespeople never tried to differentiate themselves from the pack and allowed their prices to serve as the sole decision-making factor. I had no other information on which to base my decision. Thus, I selected the lowest price because they all appeared to offer the same service.

I’ve never been in a storm clean-up situation like this before and would have appreciated counsel on the best way to handle it. I didn’t know what questions to ask the service providers which would have helped me make the right decision. All I knew was that I had a mess that needed to be cleaned up quickly.

Here’s the best part.

All three of those salespeople had the same chance of winning this project…even the one whose price was $12,500. Earlier in the article, I mentioned that I called my insurance company regarding the damage. Since my fence was destroyed by the downed trees, the insurance company was the funding source for the cleanup project. They told me to pick whatever company I wanted to work with and they’d pay for it.

Had any of them differentiated themselves, in any way, they would have won this project. Had any of them put an arm around me and helped me make an informed decision, I would have bought from them.

Salespeople who don’t differentiate what they sell and how they sell lose on price. In Sales Differentiation, I teach you how to win more deals at the prices you want.