Seems to be a number of questions and chatter about how to deal with, attack, match and overcome competitors. Therefore today we will discuss how to deal with competitors.
Okay, first a couple of facts.
- If you have no competitors, the customer may not be worth the trouble.
- The better the account, the more competitors you will have.
- Customers will use the competitors to either valid your pricing or use the competitor to get you to lower your prices.
- Some competitor will always attempt to buy the business with an loss leader type pricing.
- You must know who your competitors are in order to develop a sales strategy to win the account.
So, the question is back to how do you offset the competitor’s energy and persistence to take your business from you everyday? That is the focus we will be taking and one you should be examining every day you are in the field or with a customer.
Now, we have all heard some sales person say this… “I have no competition.”
Well they are only three ways they can make that statement. The three methods used to have no competition include…
- They have trademarked or patented process no one else has or can license. This is just a plain old monopoly play, and eventually someone will develop a better method.
- They have a long term contract with exclusivity clauses and have become the sole source provider.
- They have built a business result oriented success history with outstanding personal relationships within the customer’s company that no one is willing to let them leave.
Your goal is to become like the third group on the above list. This is the strongest place to stand with any customer. You have a positive success record (documented and shared every six months) and wide & deep relationships and networks within the customers organization.
The B2b Sales Superstars have this status within their customer companies. The deep network of people act as their early warning system to their competitors attempting any strategy, they share the competitors strategy as well as tactics, and then they tell you who to influence to keep their business. Life does not get any better than that.
So how do you develop this bond between your customers and you?
- Stop pushing for a sale – your goal is to know more about the customer’s company than they know about themselves or the industry.
- Stop presenting and start using the Questioning Model for B2B Selling. The presentation model is an old school tactic that has fallen out of favor with most buyers and decision makers today.
- Learn as much as you can about the company and their future vision. Before you can lock into a long term relationship you need to know which direction they are actually going. (i.e. Growth is better than a declining company.)
- Use measurements and data to provide accurate ROI to your customers after a sale or pilot program has been installed. This data proves your value to the organization and validates your projects which give you more credibility for the future.
- Have agendas for your customer visits and touches – lose I just want to drop by or catch up on things approach – relating to business issues for advancing the b2b sales process.
Use the five key steps listed above and you will in a position to minimize the effect of the competition. Just remember, a good account for you will be a good or even great account for a competitor. So keep up with their strategies and tactics, know their product lines, learn about their pricing strategies, and know their strengths and weaknesses compared to your strengths and weaknesses.
Also, one big point to make…
Never, ever use your competitor’s name with your customer.
It only gives the competitor validity. And, sometimes your customer may not even be aware of the competitor. I have actually won business where another sales person started talking about and comparing their product to ours. Surprise, the customer called us out of the blue and we won the account. – You can’t make this stuff up – it is reality.