By Paul Reilly

Imagine you are in a room with two of your competitors. You’re selling the same exact product and all three companies look the same and offer similar value.

Then the decision maker says, “Skip the product pitch. Your solutions are the same. Don’t bother trying to sell your company value. All of your companies offer the same service. I want to know what personal value you are bringing to the table. Why should I work with YOU? What makes YOU different?”

Each of us is endowed by our Creator with a uniqueness. It was never intended that we would all be alike. This uniqueness is encoded in our DNA and witnessed in our day-to-day behavior. Yet, we spend so much of our lives trying to fit—going to the right schools, joining the right clubs, blending in with the right crowd, and moving into the right neighborhoods. All of this fitting in overshadows our God-given right to stand out—to be outstanding in our own way.

For those of us in sales, fitting in or blending with the crowd means we fail to celebrate what makes us different. Too many years of fitting in makes standing out a more difficult proposition. A proposition requiring as much courage as confidence.

Everyone has value. Everyone has unique value. No other person in this world contributes value as we do individually. They have their value; we have our value. Every salesperson I meet is special in his or her own way. That is a given. The difficulty is in communicating that value to others—by what we say or do.

It’s a great time of year to take inventory. How do you uniquely create value for your customer and your company? What makes your personal value proposition special? How is your customer and company (and maybe the world) better off because of you? Allow yourself to dream as you answer these questions, you may discover new ways to deliver value. Match your desire to be different with your dedication to be different.

In pondering these questions, I’m reminded of Steve Jobs famous Stanford graduation speech. Jobs could’ve been addressing a sales audience as he challenged the graduates. As you read these infamous words, challenge yourself to be different and make a difference.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” (Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Graduation Speech)

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