Recently, I watched a b2b sales person make some major mistakes trying to dislodge an established competitor from one of the targeted customers on the b2b sales person list. Fortunately, I had an opportunity to dialogue with the sales person and point out the things to avoid in the future.
There are four major things to avoid in your sales strategies for taking business away from a competitor. Here are the four major mistakes to avoid…
- Never Criticize the Competitor
I have seen b2b sales people criticize an established supplier or bring up a competitor by name while comparing their product or service. Both tactics are flawed. Criticizing an established and trusted supplier only lowers your credibility in the eyes of the customer – so they discount anything you have to say. The second tactic has actually made sales for the competitor being compared since the customer may not have even known about this competitor until the b2b sales person begins talking about them. Follow the old saying – “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say anything.”
- Buying the Business
The most popular technique for getting into an account. Offering a big discount or very low price using the logic of if we get into the account we can always raise our margins later. Sorry, you are just trying to convince yourself to use this technique. The truth is two fold – one, you get either a low margin or no margin to begin with in the process and two, the customer now sees you as a low price vendor. This means they will use you to get the price lowered from the company they want to buy from in the first place. It is a much better tactic to get your margins early and often. This tactic is used when the sales person does not have the sales skills necessary to win business from a good competitor.
- Give Away Value
This one continues to amaze me, when you give away value you will not ever get it back. I have reviewed sales accounts where over zealous b2b sales people offer various value adding additions to the sales opportunity – for free! Without the value adding sales price for all parts of the sale, you lose the possibility of very high margins. The margins that can mean a difference in the overall profitability of your company – not to mention your commissions or bonuses.
- Criticize Single Source Buying
This is one of the dumbest moves I have seen b2b sales people do. Yet, I know the motivation is to get a slice of the business from the customer. Here is the rub – you are discrediting the overall objective in most b2b sales opportunities – to dominant the selling of your type of product to a customer. The single source concept is a valid and usable tactic to capture the business from a customer. If you discredit the concept, then you are back to short term selling tactics with low price the major variation in the equation. Then everyone loses. So talk up the concept.
There you have four major mistakes I have seen b2b sales people make when attempting to take the business from an established supplier. Avoid these techniques or tactics whenever you can because the effects of these actions is less effective in both the long and short b2b sales strategies.