I have had the privilege of working in some of the best professional services organizations in the world. Helping these organizations achieve growth, market share and share of mind. In the course of talking to buyers of these services, what you hear in gauging their understanding of these organizations are, “your solutions are the same, your services are based on similar methodology and approach”. In view of the depth of my involvement with the buying and selling cycles of these organizations, there may be some veracity and merit in these comments. There can be a high level of similarity.
However, the similarity ends when these buyers are prodded to explain the value they get from the services, it becomes "the quality of the people, the knowledge of the organization, how well they know my organization and deep understanding of my industry and regulatory environment, depth of our relationship, sounding board on knotty issues, similarity and alignment with our values, customer service of the people, quality and succinctness of the Reports, my trusted advisor, amongst additional attributes".
This is where DIFFERENTIATION kicks in. By the time they list out these differences and how they perceive the services, they are then able to really determine the ranking of the organizations from 1-10 with 1 being at the top of its game within the pack. It finally dawns on them that they are all really not the same.
It is essential that organizations drive differentiation to showcase their value proposition to avoid commoditization. Youngme Moon said “differentiation is generally considered a firm’s primary defense against commoditization. The fiercer the competition, the stronger the firm’s commitment to differentiation should be… the more diligently firm’s compete with each other the less differentiated they can become in the eyes of the customer”.
This is also evident in Nigeria’s banking industry, where banks are fiercely competing, same in telecoms. Customers find it very easy to switch from one bank or operator to the other because none has really shown a remarkable difference in service and solutions. There appears to be an inclination to move in the same direction to the point of automaticity.
For you to stand out, consider the following:
To ensure continued growth and relevance, organizations must embrace differentiation to succeed in a world where “conformity reigns, but exceptions rule”.