There is a Starbuck’s here in Northbrook that many times doesn’t have music playing. Of course, Starbucks is known for programming their own special blend of music, which creates a unique atmosphere. When I asked why this was, one of the managers told me he gets tired of it and decides to often not turn it on. It’s amazing how one seemingly small thing can change the whole experience. The dead air in the store makes everything feel different.
In a recent interview, Howard Schultz, Starbuck’s founder, said: “It’s all about the experience”. The reason Starbucks can charge $5 for an espresso drink is because of the unique experience. Take away the music (or the décor or the baristas) and you change the experience and it’s just a cup of coffee. And a cup of coffee is a commodity.
Just like Disney is not about the rides and Four Seasons isn’t about a bed to sleep on, Starbuck’s isn’t just about the coffee. People pay a premium for a unique experience.
In today’s commoditized world of selling, I find that many salespeople and sales leadership keep talking about how prospects and clients are always grinding them on price. They talk about how they are being commoditized. I find that the problem is that many times they are selling with the same outdated “Features and Benefits” approach that all of their competitors are using by talking about Quality, Service, Experience, etc. If I sound and look and feel like everyone else, I am now a commodity.
We are seeing that those getting around commoditization and thriving in this competitive selling environment are continually creating a unique sales experience with their prospects and clients. It’s the difference between being viewed as a vendor or a trusted advisor.
How can your sales force create a unique experience to get out of the commoditization quicksand?