When It’s All The Same

The walking time measured in dog years from Gate H17  to G14 at O'Hare Airport last Tuesday was relatively short. Maybe two hours. Feeling hungry, traversing my tenth airport in four weeks, carrying 45 pounds of stuff, the time and distance seemed longer. I dawdled and peered at each concourse snack stand, seeking inspiration, reasons to stop, buy, and satisfy my travel munchies as I slogged to G14.

As I paused briefly before the display in the rotunda grab-and-go approaching the G concourse, I finally caught on.  It’s 80% the same stuff. Whether it’s the grab-and-go case at Chili’s or Puck’s  or the Windy City Snack Bar, the yogurt with blueberries and granola, the turkey on too-thick-and-soggy focaccia bread, the tuna salad (yes, I reached such a low point one night that I bought an airport tuna salad sandwich), the Snapple drinks, and the Caesar salad with chicken all look the same, taste the same, and go down the same.

I felt… betrayed. I figured that each of the separately branded grab-and-go places provided their own special versions of the turkey sandwich, the roll up, and the salad.  I guess not. You can buy the same stuff under twenty different signs in a dozen or more airports from Atlanta to Windsor Locks. Brand sham. Might as well gag down the yogurt with blueberries from the first grab-and-go and have done with it. Why bother looking further?

Do you think our clients ever have that feeling?  [Short answer: Yes!]

The more our stuff looks like our competitors’ stuff, the more important that we give our clients a differentiated experience….

… through our conversation, our needs assessments, our perceptions, our recommendations, our follow up, and our extra effort to ensure good fit and delivery. It’s up to us to draw their attention to issues they might have overlooked.  It’s up to us to help them generate better outcomes than they’d have if they’d pulled our products off a grab-and-go shelf or a web site, thinking that they might as well buy from the first vendor and have done with it.

That’s why we’re called “sales” people. That’s why we’re worth the money our employers pay us.

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