Okay, maybe the title is a little misleading, however not by much. The reality is your sales skills and the use of the questioning model of selling are your true ally for dislodging the competition.
That being said, there are twelve questions to ask your coach or champion within a targeted account to gain insight into how to dislodge the competitor. These questions must be answered before you visit the key decision maker.
So here are the twelve questions to have answered prior to getting with the decision maker…
- Who made the original decision to buy from your competitor?
Here you want to uncover who has a vested interest in keeping the competitor in the game. Knowing if the current decision maker is the same person will keep you from embarrassing this person during your questioning sessions. Also, if the original decision maker was someone else – who may be gone – then the door of opportunity is open wider than expected.
- What were the factors leading to that decision?
Learning about the original buying criteria can help you learn the decision making strategy. It also opens the opportunity to learn if these factors have changed between the original decision and the current decision.
- Have any of those factors changed?
Here is where you can influence the new decision. What are the current factors and how well does your company match up to the new criteria.
- What is your assessment of the current level of loyalty to this supplier?
Here we are looking for who has a vested interest in keeping the current supplier and what could be influencing their bias. Focus upon developing rapport and trust with this individual or group.
- Who has the most loyal to them now and why?
Now you are looking for a possible blocker to your success. Who wants the current supplier to win and what factors are the most critical to this person? Learn what they are and develop a plan to counter their efforts.
- Who is the current sales person for the account?
Occasionally it is important to know who really is your competitor. I have seen situations where the competitor is an industry superstar and very hard to dislodge from any account. And, other times a new sales person has just taken over the account. The latter is an open invitation to rush through the window of opportunity and claim your seat at the table of sales success.
- Is this supplier well respected in the company?
While you should never attack a competitor by name, if the supplier is well respected then you must find unique differentiators to dislodge this competitor.
- What does the current supplier do well?
Here you are looking for what factors the targeted account likes about their current supplier and will want to continue having it – no matter who is the supplier.
- What are they doing poorly?
Now you are looking for competitive advantages. If you can counter their weakness, you have the advantage.
- What could be improved and requested with no follow through?
What does the customer want that they are not getting from the current supplier. And, if they have requested improvement in these areas without any changes or breakthroughs – again, you have a huge window of opportunity to seize the advantage.
- Is there any apparent interest in replacing the current supplier?
You are looking for people who will influence the decision maker to make a change. This is a person who you will need to gain their trust during the early phase of the sales process. The more respected this individual or group within their own company, the faster you dislodge the current supplier.
- Is there any political risks involved if this supplier were to be replaced?
This is a critical factor – political pressure within the customer’s organization. Depending upon the level of the political power or pressure, this can stall any attempt to move the account or change the source of supplier. Again, a high level position who wants to maintain a supplier (most often this is someone who got them into the company in the first place.) can be a tough opponent in the decision making process.
You will have twelve important answers about the current supplier situation. This information can provide you will a clear strategy to take the business away from the current supplier or competitor. This information will give you an advantage also against any newcomers attempting to take the opportunity.
Use the questioning model to get the current decision maker to verify the issues uncovered during your own personal twelve step method of dislodging the current competitor in the targeted account.