Differentiators / Discriminiators Contribute to a Winning Proposal

Christopher Witt —  April 28, 2014

Whether you’re selling a service or a product. Whether you’re a solo entrepreneur (a coach, consultant, freelancer, sole proprietor) or a major corporation. You have to show the prospective client or customer why they should choose you.

One of the best ways to do so is to talk about differentiators or discriminators. (The terms are used pretty much interchangeably.)

I’ve written before about the benefits of selling a proposal by emphasizing what makes you and your approach different. (See Compete on Differentiators, not on Price or Quality.)

Now I’d like to define what I mean by a differentiator or discriminator, and to explain how best to create effective ones.

First, a definition of terms.

A differentiator or discriminator is 1) anything you are, have, do, or use that 2) differs from what the competition is, has, does, or uses, and 3) produces a benefit the customer wants.

There are four elements you need to explain, demonstrate, or prove:

1. What is it?

What exactly is the thing or attribute that makes you different?

It might be your people, their qualifications or expertise. Or your facilities. Or your processes. Or your tools and technologies.

Don’t assume that everyone understands what you’re talking about. Explain, define, or demonstrate it, if necessary.

2. How is it different?

Is it different in kind (it’s completely new and unlike anything else)? Or quality (it’s markedly different)? Or number (we have more of them than anyone else)?

3. How does it benefit the customer?

Just because it’s different doesn’t mean that it’s better or that the customer will want it. Show them how it will help them achieve, solve, improve, avoid, or fix something easier, faster, or cheaper.

4. How do you prove it?

Back up your assertions with third-party evidence or testimonials. Don’t say “we have a great reputation” when you can say “we’ve been awarded best small business in Charlotte for the past three years by the Chamber of Commerce.”

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

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