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In 2016, Getting a Competitive Advantage Requires Making This Shift

Competitive advantageThings sure have changed in buying and selling…

Once upon a time, getting a competitive advantage was all about your product. But that was more than a century ago. It’s been a long time since your product alone could give you a true and sustainable competitive advantage. If you’re still selling with product as the primary or sole point of differentiation, you’re woefully behind the times.

The Industrial Revolution set the stage for the Age of Manufacturing. In the early 1900s, the competitive advantage came from the ability to mass produce efficiently.

By 1960, global connections and transportation systems gave a competitive advantage to companies who could leverage distribution systems.

And, of course, the tech connections we got in the Information Age changed everything again. The competitive advantage swung to those who could innovate to dominate the flow of information.

And now the tide has turned again. Dr. Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School, describes it this way: It’s “an enormous global power shift from producers to consumers, from those who make to those who buy.”

This has already happened, according to Forrester. Those who produce are no longer in the driver’s seat. Those who consume are the ones with the real power today. Our buyers are empowered. Their expectations are high. It is the Age of the Empowered Buyer.

And we’re five or more years into this new Age. Most B2B organizations are barely cognizant of this Age let alone fully responding to it. And even less acknowledgement of this new Age has trickled down to the front-line sales team.

That’s why it’s imperative to make adjustments and reclaim your competitive advantage. You need to find a competitive advantage that’s better suited to the Age of the Empowered Buyer.

But how? Empowered Buyers have been clear and consistent in telling us what they want. They want a connection that’s special… An experience that’s meaningful…  A sales engagement that is transformational rather than transactional.

And it’s up to salespeople AT THE FRONT LINE to provide this.


To learn more about the differences between transactional and transformational selling, attend Deb Calvert’s two-part series at Sales Innovation Expo.

Calvert’s presentation at 10:30 on Wednesday in the Top Sales World Auditorium will address the three big mistakes you might be making that inadvertently disable (rather than enable) connections with buyers.    

On Thursday afternoon, in Theatre 5, Calvert will share recent research with sales managers about how front-line sales professional are (and are not) delivering the customer experience that modern buyers desire. 

Each session will reveal five different action items you can implement immediately to enhance connections with buyers and gain a competitive advantage in this new Age of the Empowered Buyer. All those attending will receive a Sales Manager Toolkit, compliments of Calvert’s company, People First Productivity Solutions.

Deb Calvert is a Top 50 Sales Influencer and author of the bestseller DISCOVER Questions® Get You Connected and the award-winning CONNECT2Sell Blog. She is UC-Berkeley’s instructor for Sales Development Principles. Calvert conducts field research with buyers and sellers, and she is currently leading the Stop Selling & Start Leading movement.

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