Competitive DifferentiationIt is impossible to overstate the importance of differentiation in the marketplace. Sources of differentiation include:
- the nature of services wrapped around products
- talent and expertise the company can tap
- the company's quality processes
- strong customer relationships
- how specific combos of products and services are tailored to individual customers
- use of high-quality resources
- infrastructure investments (e.g., IT)
- financial resources
- the quality of the company's distribution channels
- the quality of the company's information about customers and competitors
If a prospective customer asks, "Which company that sells what we're looking for is consistently competent, responsive, and well-organized?" does your company come to mind first? If yes, the need is to continue delivering the product and service excellence the customer has come to expect.
If not, there is almost surely opportunity for clearer differentiation through some combination of the sources of differentiation listed above. And that, in turn, means systematically assessing training needs, and addressing whatever knowledge and skill gaps are identified as barriers to strengthened differentiation.