July 20, 2012


Salespeople are in the fortunate position of being in an occupation where their own wits and determination determine their pay amount, as opposed to non-commissioned workers that are at the mercy of unchanging hourly or weekly rates. Maintaining this freedom, however, requires continuously updating their knowledge and skills as part of the sales process management cycle. New methods to improve basic skills like presenting, handling objections, and distinguishing themselves from the competition are therefore valuable to all salespeople, regardless of how long they have been selling.

One skill that is well worth incorporating into sales process management is the use of “ghosting discriminators.”

What are ghosting discriminators?

Ghosting discriminators are statements made by a salesperson that answer the question “Why shouldn’t the buyer choose our competition?” in contrast to “key discriminators,” which answer “Why should the buyer choose us?”

A top salesperson uses ghosting discriminators to differentiate her offerings from other vendors’ without denigrating them. In fact, if competitors are mentioned at all, it is with a compliment. This makes the salesperson seem confident and trustworthy in the eyes of the buyer, as refraining from tearing down the competition demonstrates professionalism and respect.

How to develop ghosting discriminators as part of sales process management

The first step in developing ghosting discriminators is to analyze the weaknesses of the competition. If these are common knowledge in the salesperson’s territory, they are even more useful. Examples include high prices, onerous contracts, slow delivery, or poor customer service.

Once these are identified, the salesperson develops statements emphasizing their company’s or product’s strengths as exact opposites of the competitor’s weaknesses. The most important point in this step is that the statements must use absolute identifiers in pointing out the differences. These are superlative-type words such as “most,” “only,” “least,” “best,” “unique,” that put the salesperson’s offering in a class by itself.

The end result will be that the salesperson not only emphasizes the value of their offering, but also points out the weaknesses of the competition…without mentioning them at all.

Examples of ghosting discriminators in use.

To illustrate how ghosting discriminators work, consider a manufacturing company that is rumored to have credit trouble with its vendors, which contributes to raw material shortages.

A ghosting discriminator in this case might be “Our company has the highest credit rating with our vendors, allowing us to have a large quantity of raw materials on hand to fill large orders effortlessly.”

Or, in the case where a firm might require a large upfront deposit, a suitable ghosting discriminator would be “At XYZ Corporation, we offer the friendliest deposit terms in the industry.”

One caveat is that the salesperson must always be truthful and not promise something which cannot be delivered or which cannot be backed up by facts. Taking the prior XYZ Corporation example, if their deposit terms are not the best in their entire industry, but are the best in the area, the statement should be modified to: “At XYZ Corporation, we offer the friendliest deposit terms in the county,” or similar.

One company which has used ghosting discriminators to great results is Apple Corporation. Although it is not often directly stated, Apple’s marketing counters the complicated and clumsy interfaces of other companies with a “most elegant and user-friendly” discriminator on its iPhone and iPad products.

Summary

Sales process management planning must take into consideration any new or overlooked techniques that help get the job done more effectively. This involves not only the salesperson herself, but also her sales managers and trainers. Ghosting discriminators are one such technique that can pay off handsomely if taught and used.