I keep hearing that making sales today is more difficult than in the past. The trouble is, I’ve heard the same thing for 30 years. One of the first questions I ask salespeople at the beginning of any training session is: “Would you say that selling is more challenging now than in the past?” I asked the same question in 1990, and I got the same unanimous response I get today. In every case, 100% of salespeople agree that selling is now more challenging.

And why is that, I ask? The No. 1 answer used to be: “It’s harder to differentiate our product from the competition.” Today I’m more likely to hear: “The internet creates more-educated buyers. When we first meet them, they are further along in their decision cycle than ever before.”

But, you know what? The concern about the internet actually just translates to the same issue as in the past: The customer knows more about the competition’s products and services, which are a whole lot like ours. Therefore, it’s harder to differentiate our products and services.

If you want to be a value leader, not a bargain-basement price leader, you need to create a sustainable differentiator. The question is, how?

You need to create a sustainable differentiator. The question is, how…?