You see your feature set as the most robust on the market, your security protocol is virtually hack-proof and your interface is second to none. You can spout the advantages of your solution while you sleep, so why aren\u2019t you getting 100% of the opportunities and closing each and every one of them?\n\n\nNow more than ever, it\u2019s not enough to build the perfect product.\n\n\nThat\u2019s not to say that specs aren\u2019t important \u2013 they are. But in an increasingly competitive marketplace where global players can reach into your backyard, differentiation is the key to survival. To stay standing, you have to stand apart from the crowd.\n\nRemove the internal blinders\n\nIt\u2019s not uncommon for tech companies to wear what I call \u201cinternal blinders\u201d when it comes to their offerings. When you are so close to something, it can be difficult to have unbiased, objective perspective about your solution and the competition.\n\n\nOver the years, I\u2019ve heard dozens of CEOs, CTOs, CIOs and sales executives say no one does what their software, SaaS or PaaS does. And while this may be true in some cases, the real question is whether the market perceives it that way. While it takes domain expertise to truly understand what you are doing different, better and worse than the competition \u2013 it takes a customer-centric and market view to see how that difference is perceived by prospects and search engines. It\u2019s good practice to conduct a comprehensive review of your competitors at least twice a year. Find their leadership team on LinkedIn. Read their white papers. Watch a product webinar over lunch. Do whatever it takes to put yourself in the buyer\u2019s seat.\n\nAsk the tough questions\n\nOnce you\u2019ve done the research, ask yourself, \u201cHow do we measure up to our competitors?\u201d Make a list of what they offer \u2013 and how they\u2019re positioning themselves. What\u2019s appealing about their offerings and where do they fall short compared with your own? At least once per year, do a mini SWOT analysis and diagram out your product\u2019s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for improvement and threats. Your competition is constantly working to improve their product and leapfrog you. I recommend a diagram because it provides a visual of your current state of affairs and has the impact that writing sometimes doesn\u2019t.\n\n\nFollow up on your competitive reviews and SWOT analysis by talking to your clients, your prospects and your target audiences. Send out a survey or put together a focus group. (A growing number of online focus group consulting teams make this a convenient option.) Get the insights you need to illuminate what sets you apart and where there are gaps to be filled. Use the information you gain to button up your products to align with market needs.\n\n Take a look in the mirror\n\nBy now, you have realized that when Product A and Product B are nearly identical, customers are relying on something else to aid in the decision-making process. That\u2019s where branding comes in. Customers aren\u2019t just making a transaction; they\u2019re looking for a service, platform or product that solves their problems and fulfills their needs. In addition to your product, they\u2019re considering your reputation, your technical support, your thought leadership and how your brand makes them feel. Once you have a rock-solid product, refresh your messaging to ensure your brand is consistently reflected in your pitch materials, on the web and at tradeshows.\n\nMake your case\n\nA quality offering and persuasive branding can help bring customers into your camp, but what keeps them there? Proof.\n\n\nDo you have a 90% customer satisfaction rate? Do three-quarters of your customers use your service more than once? Have 7 of 10 big players in the industry abandoned last year\u2019s \u201cgold standard\u201d in favor of your product?\n\n\nData like these are becoming easier to obtain, but it\u2019s important to process the raw numbers to humanize your story.\n\n\nInfographics are a good, attention-grabbing way to transform big data into digestible takeaways. Another strategy is to pair quantitative data with qualitative statements. It\u2019s one thing for your CMO to say, \u201cOur customers love our products\u201d or \u201cOur innovative services synergize our clients\u2019 businesses, enabling them to leverage their core competencies to drive bottom-line growth.\u201d\n\n\n(Yuck.)\n\n\nIt\u2019s far more powerful to hear a client say, \u201cCompany X helped us work through our process challenges and implement a better system so that our team can spend their time on value-added tasks. Since then, we\u2019ve experienced our best quarter on the books.\u201d\n\n\nYour customers have improved productivity, accuracy, quality, what-have-you, thanks to your products and services. Let these proof points be the plot points of your corporate narrative, and whenever possible, let your customers tell that story for you through testimonials and case studies.\n\n\nIn the eyes of your prospects \u2013 and, [ahem], Google \u2013 there\u2019s a whole world of competitors out there. As your consumers and prospects become more educated about technology, demand for the latest and greatest will increase and product life cycles will shorten.\n\n\nYes, you\u2019ll need to keep innovating. So will everyone else. What must remain the same over time \u2013 yet wholly different from your competitors \u2013 is what sets you apart and the unique value your offering delivers to your customers.