Insider Exclusive: STAND OUT! Differentiate or Disappear

Insider Exclusive: STAND OUT! Differentiate or Disappear

By: Larry Mersereau

Why should I buy from you? What makes you different? Is your product or service a better option than those offered by similar businesses? These are the questions on every customer’s mind, and you had better be ready to answer them clearly and succinctly if you want to earn their business.

Your customer most likely has plenty of other options from which to purchase your product or service. It’s up to you to demonstrate that your business is different in a way that matters to the customer.

Think about the brands that you buy consistently yourself. What makes you pass on the competition and choose a certain brand? For most of us, the answer is trust. The brands you buy deliver what they promise, and you trust them to continue that promise. When you’re selling to a new prospect, you must first establish trust.

The value of the promise you make is only as good as the level of trust you’ve established—if there is no trust, there is no value. In my presentation at ABA’s 2019 Marketplace, “STAND OUT! Differentiate or Disappear,” I use the “brand ladder” as an illustration for building that trust.

The ladder starts with Total Stranger, or someone who knows nothing about you. The steps then work their way up through Recognition, Awareness, Acceptance, and more. In all, there are seven steps, with the top step being Evangelist.

The example of the brand ladder shows how you can’t expect a business prospect to jump steps. Selling is a sequential process, and you have to take it one step at a time. Customers are not going to leap from “never having heard of you” to “loyal customer” after just one contact.

Successful marketing moves your customers methodically up the ladder. Once you identify where your prospect is, you can then concentrate on moving them up to the next step.

When it comes to the sales conversation, the same holds true. Be conscious of where the prospect is at all times and focus on moving them to the next step—not jumping ahead to the direct sale. By the time you reach the last step, the “close” will be a piece of cake.

Finally, your customers will be happy, loyal, and willing to rave about you to their friends and colleagues, aptly naming them the Evangelist.

My presentations at Marketplace are designed to help you move people up your brand ladder, close more deals, and grow repeat and referral business. Join me for “Selling From a Position of POWER” on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 4:30 p.m., and “STAND OUT! Differentiate or Disappear” on Sunday, Jan. 27, at 11 a.m. I hope to see you at both sessions.

Larry Mersereau is the author of STAND OUT! Differentiate or Disappear, and he speaks to business owners, marketers, and sales professionals who want to increase sales and profits. Mersereau will be a speaker at ABA’s 2019 Marketplace. Learn more about Mersereau at

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, ABA
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