“All things being equal, people make decisions based solely on price. It’s the salesperson’s job to ensure that all things are not equal.”

— Patrick Henry Hansen

Because there is an inverse relationship between price sensitivity and perceived value, building differentiation is central to establishing power. Sellers build differentiation by emphasizing Competitive Differential Advantages (CDA’s) and consistently inserting unique selling propositions (exclusive features and capabilities) and their strongest competitive strengths possible into their sales vernacular. They build power by making clear and definitive differentiations by purposefully using the words “unique,” “only” and “exclusive.”

Abraham Lincoln was a gaunt and frightening looking man. When he decided to run for president, a little girl reached out and asked him to grow a beard. Telling him that he would look “a great deal better as your face is so thin.” Lincoln grew his beard, to the de light of many, and further differentiated himself. His appearance is now one of the most iconic in American History.

The more critical the need and the more unique the solution, the less you will negotiate.


Many traditional features, capabilities, and benefits that salespeople use as “differentiators” make them “uniquely similar”—indistinguishable from competing vendors. Using common “differentiators,” sellers can be very unique, just like everyone else!


Sellers avoid “false” differentiators by focusing on defendable differentiators that fall into 3 categories:

UNIQUE: Exclusive Attributes, Benefits & Capabilities (ABC’s) not available from competing vendors.

COMPARATIVE: Attributes, Benefits & Capabilities superior to competing vendors that offer similar ABC’s.

NUMERIC: Numbers, statistics, percentages, dates & dollars that distinguish products from competitors.


“Can or do your competitors say the same thing?”

That’s it. That’s the only legitimate acid test to determine if your differentiators are false or defend able. Unfortunately, truth isn’t a valid acid test or final determinant when evaluating whether a differentiator is false or defendable. For example, saying that customer support is a differentiator might be a true statement, but it’s a false differentiator. It’s a false differentiator because, true or false, your competitors “Can and do say the same thing.” A true statement, can be a false differentiator.


The number three has a powerful psychological impact on people. Use the Rule of 3 to organize and communicate differentiators. Keeping major points of emphasis in groups of three will make your differentiators easier to articulate, better understood, and more likely remembered. Exam ples of the “Magic # of Rhetoric” include:

  • The 3 Musketeers
  • The Holy Trinity
  • The 3 Little Pigs
  • “The Good, Bad & Ugly
  • The 3 Wise Men
  • Aladdin’s 3 Wishes
  • “Healthy, Wealthy & Wise
  • 3 Laws of Thermodynamics
  • 3 Olympic Medals

As you can see. True differentiation is difficult, takes practice to recognize and understand and most importantly must be written and rehearsed PRIOR to being asked. For a Spartan Seller, preparation is key.