“Competition is healthy!”
“There’s plenty of room for everyone!”
Huh? Who the hell ever said that? No one from New Jersey!
The truth is most people would rather see their competition die, or at least go out of business and never be heard from again.
HERE’S THE CHALLENGE: How does a salesperson address the issue of the competition in these times? I wrote about it in The Sales Bible in 1994, revised it in 2002, and revised it again in 2008 just before the bottom fell out of the economy, and a new edition (that includes social selling ideas) in the 2015 edition.
HERE’S THE REALITY: Sales were down for everyone, and as the economy recovers (finally) there are fewer prospects for new sales. Consequently the hunt for more sales, new sales, and especially take-away sales has intensified. You can no longer afford to “lose one on price,” and move to the next. The one you lost may be the ONLY one this week, or this month.
HERE’S THE GROSS REALITY: You must know that your competition is having a meeting across town RIGHT NOW. They’re planning to cut their prices, steal your customers, and bury you. They’re gunning for your best customers.
It’s a (sales) war. Fought battle by battle. Customer by customer. Action by action. Relationship by relationship. Until the last salesman or saleswoman is standing. You’re the warrior. Winner take all. There’s no second place in sales. It’s either gold or coal.
Here are the best sales weapons to deploy in your competitive war:
- Value offered in terms of the customer.
- Proven differentiation between you and others.
- A quality standard that includes the word BEST.
- Memorable service.
- Timely/rapid response. Be the fastest.
- Friendly people. Be the friendliest.
- Knowledgeable people. The most knowledgeable.
- Helpful people. The most helpful.
- Technology. Be the highest.
- Web presence. Be the best.
- Social presence. Be the best.
- Reputation presence. Have the best.
- Reputation in the marketplace or community. The best reputation. A long track record of success.
- Video presence. Existing customers who speak on your behalf. NOTE: They’re the ones that create your reputation.
- Google presence. Be searchable and findable to be viable.
- Availability. 24.7.365 is the minimum acceptable standard.
- Oh yeah, sometimes the best price.
And here are the COMPETITION SUCCESS STRATEGIES to MASTER:
- Speak kindly of your competition, or say nothing.
- Respect competition, and others will respect you.
- If others speak negatively about anything or anyone, DO NOT join in.
- Know your competition’s weaknesses, but focus on your strength and value.
- Know why they won, when you should have.
- Know how they speak about you, and build response into your presentation.
- Know how to beat them until they hate you (hating them is a waste of energy).
- Your only victory is when you get the order.
What you say, and the way you say it, weighs heavily in the competitive wars. Here are some clues:
- Never down the competition.
- Never use condescending language.
- Never “warn” the customer.
- Never be negative.
IDEA: My friend and sales expert Ray Leone teaches salespeople to refer to the competition as “industry standard.” It’s brilliant. He says, “Industry standard is xxxxx, but we are xxxx+yyyyy.” Very powerful.
What you say about your competition is a true reflection of your persona. And even more powerful, it creates one of the key elements of the customer’s perception of you as a person. Part of their value judgment of you as they look to move forward – with or without you.
Your job is not to down others; your job is to get to know the customer. Develop rapport, create open communication, give and get truth, establish believability, gain trust, and prove your value in terms of them.
Interestingly, you do all this by asking for their knowledge of your product or service, their past experience, their history, and their personal knowledge and wisdom. The competition will come up in THEIR conversation. All you have to say is, “Wow, what happened?” and the rest of the story will flow.
WRONG THINKING: Many people think that their product or service is becoming a commodity. Anyone who believes this is a weak salesperson. Hopefully your competition feels this way.
SECRET WEAPON: Testimonials. Let your customers talk about their experiences with competitive products and services. Find customers that used the competition and switched to you. Find a customer who left you, went to the competition, and CAME BACK. Customers can say anything they want about the competition – you cannot. When you talk about the competition, it’s selling. When customers talk, it’s proof. REALITY: Testimonials will beat the competition when you can’t.
FINAL WARNING: Do not use the words “save money.” If you believe you’re less than others, use the words PROFIT and VALUE.
“Competitive advantage” is one of the least understood concepts in sales wars. If you want the real definition, go to www.gitomer.com, register if you’re a first-time visitor, and enter the word COMPETE in the GitBit box.
Updated: April 17, 2017
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