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Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want

Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want

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Sales Differentiation: 19 Powerful Strategies to Win More Deals at the Prices You Want

5/5 (1 rating)
231 pages
3 hours
Sep 18, 2018


"If we don't drop our price, we will lose the deal."

That's the desperate cry from salespeople as they try to win deals in competitive marketplaces. While the easy answer is to lower the price, the company sacrifices margin--oftentimes unnecessarily.

To win deals at the prices you want,the strategy needed is differentiation. Most executives think marketing is the sole source of differentiation. But what about the sales function of the company? This commonly neglected differentiation opportunity provides a multitude of ways to stand out from the competition. This groundbreaking book teaches you how to develop those strategies.

In Sales Differentiation, sales management strategist, Lee B. Salz presents nineteen easy-to-implement concepts to help salespeople win deals while protecting margins. These concepts apply to any salesperson in any industry and are based on the foundation that "how you sell, not just what you sell, differentiates you."

The strategies are presented in easy-to-understand stories and can quickly be put into practice. Divided into two sections, the "what you sell" chapters help salespeople:

  • Recognize that the expression "we are the best" causes differentiation to backfire.
  • Avoid the introspective question that frustrates salespeople and ask the right question to fire them up.
  • Understand what their true differentiators are and how to effectively position them with buyers.
  • Find differentiators in every nook and cranny of the company using the six components of the "Sales Differentiation Universe."
  • Create strategies to position differentiators so buyers see value in them.

The "how you sell" section teaches salespeople how to provide meaningful value to buyers and differentiate themselves in every stage of the sales process. This section helps salespeople:

  • Develop strategies to engage buyers and turn buyer objections into sales differentiation opportunities.
  • Shape buyer decision criteria around differentiators.
  • Turn a commoditized Request for Proposal (RFP) process into a differentiation opportunity. 
  • Use a buyer request for references as a way to stand out from the competition.
  • Leverage the irrefutable, most powerful differentiator...themselves.

Whether you've been selling for twenty years or are new to sales, the tools you learn in Sales Differentiation will help you knock-out the competition, build profitable new relationships, and win deals at the prices you want.

Sep 18, 2018

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Top quotes

  • The reality is that the price issue isn’t the problem at all. It’s a symptom. The actual issue is that the salesperson has not differentiated what he sells in a way that resonates with the buyer.

  • For example, if your strongest differentiators are cost reduction related, the ideal point of entry into the account would be those whose primary interests are financial, such as the CEO, CFO, or president.

  • Lecturing them on the alternative solution, without first gaining interest in having the conversation, fails to engage them. Positioning questions open the door with buyers by arousing interest in alternative solutions.

  • Not only are we willing to pay for something we could have for free, we are willing to spend ten times the price to get it. Yes, we are!

  • A foundation element of your sales differentiation strategy is the recognition that you know more about the world of potential solutions in your industry than your buyers do.

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Sales Differentiation - Lee B. Salz



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

"In today’s competitive business environment, salespeople need to seize every opportunity to differentiate themselves. In Sales Differentiation, Lee Salz presents the strategy and roadmap to help you sell more while protecting margins. I find many salespeople forget that they have an opportunity to stand out from the competition in the way they sell and 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

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

A treasure chest of practical, tactical, doable ways to differentiate yourself from the competition! Read it. . . . Use it!

—ANTHONY PARINELLO, author of Selling to VITO: the Very Important Top Officer

"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. I love the way the book is broken into two sections . . . what you sell and how you sell, so salespeople can easily use these 19 concepts to win more deals at the prices they want."

—VERNE HARNISH, founder of Entrepreneurs’ Organization and author of Scaling Up (Rockefeller Habits 2.0)

"If you can’t differentiate yourself in the mind of the buyer, all that’s left is your price. This golden volume, Sales Differentiation, arms you with 19 strategies to help you provide value to your buyer. But the glue to turn them into long-term clients is the author—Lee Salz. He is your income differentiator."

—JEFFREY GITOMER, author of The Little Red Book of Selling

"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. Salespeople often forget they have an opportunity to deliver meaningful value, not just with what they sell, but how they sell. Through great stories and anecdotes, this book teaches you how to do just that. I highly recommend it for anyone in sales."

—STEVEN SCHUSSLER, creator and founder of Rainforest Café, T-REX, Yak & Yeti, and The Boathouse, all featured at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

"As a fan of Lee’s work, I was excited to read his latest book. He delivers as usual! With Sales Differentiation, Lee provides the reader with an easy-to-understand primer for sales success. Written in a no-nonsense style, the book is filled with great examples. It is perfect for both beginning salespeople looking to develop their skills and experienced salespeople seeking to take their sales results to the next level. I will be recommending Sales Differentiation to my sales students!"

—DAWN DEETER-SCHMELZ, Ph.D., director, Kansas State University National Strategic Selling Institute

"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

"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.

Sales organizations prosper when they eliminate the default activity of lowering prices to win sales. This will give you the knowledge and confidence to do just that.

—TOM HOPKINS, author of When Buyers Say No

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.

"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 of Stop Selling & Start Leading and DISCOVER Questions®

"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

"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

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

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

"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

"In Sales Differentiation, Lee delivers a fine addition to his line of outstanding sales reference tools. It’s straightforward, 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

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

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

"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

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

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, CEO of Sales Hacker and author of Hacking Sales

"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, CEO SBR Worldwide/Know More and world’s leading expert on sales intelligence

© 2018 Lee B. Salz

Sales Differentiation

All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published by HarperCollins Leadership, an imprint of HarperCollins.

Book design by Elyse J. Strongin, Neuwirth & Associates.

ISBN 978-0-8144-3991-3 (eBook)

Epub Edition August 2018 9780814439913

Library of Congress Control Number: 2018942034

ISBN 978-0-8144-3990-6

Printed in the United States of America

18 19 20 21 22 LSC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


You inspire me every day to be the best I can be in every aspect of life.

I hope I do the same for you. Follow your heart and, whatever you do, give it everything you have.


Thank you for supporting all my life ventures and being my life partner.

If you can dream it, you can have it!


It means the world to me knowing that you are always behind me.

Thank you!


I couldn’t have asked for a better sister. You’re awesome!


You inspire me to push myself to be better today than I was yesterday.


Many people contributed to Sales Differentiation and I’m forever grateful for their involvement in this book venture:

Dawn Deeter-Schmelz, J.J. Vanier distinguished professor and director, National Strategic Selling Institute, Kansas State University

Mike Moroz, CEO, Walters Recycling and Refuse, Inc.

Dave Kirsch, CEO, Shippers Supply, Inc.

Myra Salz, my mom and editor extraordinaire

My sincere thanks to all my clients and their salespeople who have embraced my sales differentiation philosophy and are winning more deals at the prices they want.

Thank you to Jill Konrath who took my call over ten years ago and shared pearls of wisdom that I continue to treasure today.

Thank you to Jeb Blount for contributing an outstanding foreword for Sales Differentiation.


Foreword by Jeb Blount

Part I. WHAT You Sell

1 The Best Sales Consultant in the World

2 Differentiation Is Marketing’s Responsibility, Isn’t It?

3 The Root Cause of a Salesperson’s Frustration

4 What Would You Pay for Something You Could Get for Free?

5 Finding Your Differentiators

6 Who Cares About Your Differentiators?

7 Are You Leaving Differentiation Open to Buyer Interpretation?

8 Whose Fault Is It When a Buyer Doesn’t See Your Differentiated Value?

Part II. HOW You Sell

9 Differentiating Through Your Selling Approach

10 Aligning Your Sales Differentiation Strategy with Decision Influencers

11 Developing a Sales Crime Theory

12 The Most Important Sales Differentiation Tool

13 The Art of Query to Position Differentiators

14 Shaping Buyer Decision Criteria

15 Disrupting the Buying Process Through Sales Differentiation

16 Buyer Objections: An Opportunity for Sales Differentiation

17 Last Chance to Differentiate with Your Buyer

18 Keeping the Strategy Fresh

19 The Irrefutable Differentiator

Conclusion: Using Sales Differentiation to Get in the Door with Prospects

Sales Differentiation Concepts


About the Author


You guys are all the same. I’d heard the words come out of the mouths of my prospects more times than I wanted to admit. This was usually followed by, I really just need your best prices.

I was twenty-five years old and still getting my legs under me as a sales professional. Like most sales reps, what I sold wasn’t special or sexy. It was a service that most businesses used, but virtually all considered a commodity that was low on the priority list.

The competition was fierce and aggressive. Every deal was a dogfight. Making things worse was the fact that the sales collateral and pitch for each of the players in the market, including my company, were essentially the

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