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Standing out from the crowd

by Lesley Jones

Standing Out from the Crowd


As your business grows and you start to look around you, you will discover there are lots of businesses that appear to do the same thing as you, but do they?


I was reminded over the weekend of a very interesting programme I watched a few years ago.  It was filmed at the Heinz baked bean factory, and detailed how a tin of baked beans was produced.  However, whilst they talked about most of the ingredients they used, where they came from, their pedigree, how they arrived ‘just-in-time’, and their journey along the production line, there was one ingredient that came in a plain tub, I think with a label that just said ‘Sauce’.


No-one, not even the factory workers were allowed to know the ingredients in the ‘sauce’ tub.  This, we were told is the ‘magic’ ingredient that makes Heinz baked beans different from all the other brands on the shelves.


Having remembered the program, I started to think about how this relates to our businesses.  What is our ‘secret sauce’, what makes us stand out from all the other entrepreneurs that seemingly do what we do?  


More importantly is it visible to our potential clients.


How did you decide your favourite brand of baked beans?

There are lots of choices on the supermarket shelves, so what process did you use to decide your favourite brand?


The different brands have different colour labels, but they all say ‘Baked Beans in Tomato Sauce’.  Maybe your initial choice was based on the colour of the label?


When you opened the tin and looked inside, what did you see?  Baked beans in tomato sauce, just like the label stated.  However, as you compare the contents, you discover some have a slightly thicker sauce, and others a paler colour sauce, but overall they all look pretty much the same.   

So how did you decide?


By simply looking at the label and the contents of the tin, it is difficult to know which one you would enjoy the most, until that is you taste the baked beans

Which is the way most of us decide.


So it should be with our businesses…

For example: there are many small business accountants out there, who, if you just listened to their network pitch, or glanced at their business card or website you would see and hear exactly the same words from most of them. 

It is only by spending time to get to know them that you would understand whether you want to work with them or not.  It is their ‘secret sauce’ that will shine through as you dive more deeply into their background, and uncover why they do what they do, in the way that they do it.

This process of discovery, through meetings and conversations, can be applied to learn about any business, from web-developers to personal stylists; and from plumbers to gardeners; not forgetting all the business and personal coaches, consultants and mentors out there.


How do you differentiate yourself in business?

If you want to stand out from the crowd, you need to establish your own ‘secret sauce’.   The ingredient that makes you different from all those others around you that appear to do the same thing as you do, and you need to make sure it is visible.  Only when it is apparent, will you start to attract the right type of clients for you, those who love what you do and are prepared to sing your praises from the hilltops.

Over the last 6 months, I have run a number of 12 week Business Acceleration programs using the Business Model Canvas as a framework.


One of the first tasks we complete on the program, is to establish why clients choose to buy from ‘you’ as opposed to your competitors.  Often the answer relates to something you do without thinking, it is your natural way of working, which you do automatically.


An analogy would be driving a car.  As you start to learn, it is difficult to co-ordinate everything that needs to be done to drive safely, but the more you practice the easier it becomes.  Soon you do not need to think about changing gear, signalling or looking in your mirror. You do it automatically. 


So, in your business, what do you do automatically, without thinking? What is your secret sauce?

I suggest you get some help to establish what you do to serve your clients that you don’t have to think about.  Someone who will hold up a mirror so you can see a reflection of yourself talking about & delivering your products and services.  The best people to do this are your colleagues, clients and mentors.


As a mentor, I am constantly helping my clients to get a good understanding of why they are good at what they do.  Listening to how they describe themselves and taking time to understand their background, where they grew up and their career history gives me an insight into why they are good at what they do.  This is the start of the process to identify their ‘secret sauce’. 


Another useful input to this exercise is reviewing the words used in the testimonials that my client’s receive from their clients. Often what we think we do for our clients is not how they perceive the value we provide for them.


So, if you want to establish your secret sauce, I suggest you try the following:

  1. Write out your education & career history,
  2. Review your client testimonials and study the language used,
  3. Talk through what you have written with a colleague and ask them to help you identify the common themes.


This process will take time and you are unlikely to come up with the exact elements at first.  Persevere and you will soon know why you are different, and you can then start to use this information in your marketing material.


My secret sauce....

For me, it has taken some time to establish my ‘secret sauce’.  It is still work in progress, however one element that differentiates me from my peers is my approach to learning, solving problems and planning for success.


My father was a university lecturer, my mother a teacher, so growing up was all about education and learning.  However, I was not simply given the answer to the questions I asked, I was taught how to work it out for myself.


Over the years this has served me very well, I got better and better at solving problems and making things happen.  If something didn’t seem right, it probably wasn’t, so by applying my instinctive approach to an investigation, using the techniques I had been taught as a child, I would uncover solutions not previously identified.


This skill is part of my ‘secret sauce’, I do it without thinking and it differentiates me from other mentors. 


I intuitively adopt this ‘inquisitive’ approach to my mentoring relationships as I help my clients both plan for their future and identify how their business can support the life-style they desire.


If you would like to know more about how I help my clients identify their ‘secret sauce’ then please book a discovery session with me OR come along to one of the taster sessions for my 12 week Business Acceleration Program.


25 way to get more customers

Lesley Jones

Lesley Jones is a Sales Masters Guild Personal Business Mentor.


“ If I can make just a small improvement in the appalling statistic that 60% of businesses fail within their first 5 years, then I will know that I have made a difference” says Lesley.


Find out more about Lesley on her Sales Masters Guild profile page


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