So just how different are you from your competitors?

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To set yourself apart from your competition you really do need to be different. ‘Same old’ really doesn’t work anymore.

Interviews and sales have a lot in common, of course. Each is a presentation of yourself to people you may not know. Why do some people succeed almost instantly in sales presentations and interviews? They make themselves different, they set themselves apart, they shine, they ask poignant questions about the prospect’s business and they know their stuff. They exude confidence and they answer questions with a bit of spark.

Interviewers are asking ‘Is this person right for me/ us?’  ‘Will she fit in?’  ‘Will he make a genuine contribution?’ ‘Is he a safe bet?’ ‘Can I be almost certain she is going to do what she says on her c.v.?’  In sales, people ask the same sort of questions but also, ‘Can I do business with this person?’ If prospects feel awkward with you, they’ll start looking for reason not to do business with you.

Whether you’re comfortable with public speaking or not, Sales is public speaking. So, as with an interview, what do you have to do to be different and to stand out? Lots of things! But sincerity and smiling helps.

  • A natural smile produces characteristic wrinkles around the eyes. Insincere people only smile with their mouth. We all need to lighten up and take ourselves less seriously. Smiling is infectious and it’s a game-changer.
  • Showing a sense of humour does not mean stringing out a set of stage-comic gags but using stories about you and others that will make them chuckle. Sadly, humour is often avoided in a sales meeting, but it really is an ice-breaker and sustains attention.
  • Adding the ‘make them laugh’ dimension is also a game-changer. Make the stories as topical and natural as you can. Laughter releases tension and shows that you are human; a Real Person with wit and one who might just be a good person to do business with. They will remember you and your story over a less animated competitor.
  • Laughter releases endorphins, it takes people off their guard and helps them to relax; they will listen to you more actively. Humour used sensitively is a great door-opener, it sets the stage and takes away the anticipation of routine and drabness. Generalising, Brits, Americans, and Scandinavians, enjoy humour at work. It generally doesn’t work in more formal countries in the workplace.
  • Of course, avoid political or sensitive subjects in case your view is widely different from theirs. Remember that self-deprecation or sounding like a clod does not help. But appeal to your clients’ sense of fun and it will single you out.

People often avoid laughter because they think it’s out of place. But in sales, used wisely, it is entirely congruent. It shows that you enjoy the fun side of work. And why should work not be fun? It shows that your serious, practical face can also be light and friendly.

When you smile genuinely at someone they will generally smile back. People love to laugh in business and love doing business with sparky, bright, friendly people.

People love to be entertained.

Only 15% of our laughter has to do with jokes. Laughter has more to do with bonding.


My younger son, Phil, on his c.v. had declared that he enjoys beat-boxing. To his surprise, at an interview in Brighton, they said, “Go on then…”  Without rehearsal, off he went. After 4 minutes of non-stop beat-boxing they were all laughing their socks off. An audience had gathered outside the interview room incredulous and entertained. No one had ever done that in their interview room.

He got the job.

Want to work this through and create a warmer personality for your Brand?

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