Discriminators are features of your offer or solution that differ from a competitor’s offer and are acknowledged by the customer as important. Both conditions must be met.

The strongest discriminators are true for your solution and not true for any of your competitors. The weakest discriminators are true for your solution and not true for at least one of your competitors. The strength of a discriminator also depends on its importance and relevance to the customer. Your discriminators must answer: “Why us?”

The CEO of a large defense contractor once said to his bid team, “We must identify at least one truly unique discriminator to justify bidding.”

If the customer cannot identify discriminators among the various offers, then low price generally becomes the remaining discriminator. However, most buyers say that sometimes small differences among offers become the discriminators among the winner and the losers.

Discriminators can also include:

  • Customer success stories
  • Past performance success
  • Innovative and new ideas that fit within the requirement
  • Customer relationships and trust

Use this checklist when identifying discriminators:

✔    Identify discriminators by understanding your customer, your competitors, and your own capabilities.
✔    Identify both positive and negative discriminators and position them as being favorable to the customer.
✔    Continuously reexamine whether a discriminator still discriminates.
✔    Develop discriminators by continuing to refine them.
✔    Emphasize discriminators that focus on people, experience, performance, and understanding of the customer’s goals and objectives.