Seems like everyday I’m working with a b2b sales person I get this question…
Who are My Competitors?
The first type of competitor is usually the easiest to figure out. Usually it entails a list of your major competitors within the industry or supplier types. Since this is the most common answer, it is a key bit of knowledge to have and use. In fact, I would suggest you create a matrix of competitors with the strengths and weaknesses of each competitor. This will assist you in developing a strategy to defeat an external competitor.
However there are three other types of competition for your funding. These three are usually not at the top of mind for the b2b sales person and thus little to no time is used to win against these menacing competitors who cause us to come in second on many projects or sales opportunities.
Here are other three competitors…
- – Internal Resources
This competitor is usually found when you are selling professional or business services to an organization. Somewhere along the b2b sales process, an internal resource raises their hand and states they can do that! Cheaper and more effectively since they already know the organization and the people. I find this particularly when a department or person within a functional area has a personal agenda to – keep you out of the organization! It is often based upon fear of losing something – credibility, their job or power. Tough to beat since they are on the inside and have continuous access to the decision makers.
- – Budget Used Somewhere Else
I sometimes mention this action as a source for your funding for projects or sales objectives over a line item budget amount. Here is a situation whereby the tables are turned and someone else is using your budgeted funds for another project or purpose. This can be for an external source or an internal source of funding. However, the key point is you lose if the funds are not available in a timely manner. To counter this action, you must be prepared to show a high return on investment or a faster real payback time. These are the only two tactics I have seen to counter a move of budgeted funds. When the CFO sees the difference in terms of ROI or payback, they sometimes make the call for you to win the sales opportunity.
- – Nothing!
Now this one is the toughest to deal with for both you and the inside users who would have benefited from an action commitment to fund and use your solution. Yet, our research has shown as much as 35% of the time – NO DECISION IS MADE! Therefore, no one wins, yet many people lose. Usually this is a situation of a poor decision maker – you know the type of person who actually feels no decision is a good decision. Unfortunately, I have found no real counter to action except for an occasional change of heart due to better questioning on the part of the b2b sales person. Better questions lead the buyer down a path of understanding value, the cost of doing nothing is huge, and how they position will be secure due to the favorable decision being made.
The key thing for you as a up and coming B2B Sales Superstar – is to be aware of all four types of competitors. Being aware will allow for you to prepare strategies for keeping the sales process moving forward and avoiding the pitfalls created by competition. Remember, competition comes in more than one favor. You need to be prepared so when an b2b sales opportunity presents itself you will win a higher percentage than others.