B2B sales is highly competitive. In all the sales I’ve experienced, the competition has been involved in the process at some point. This could be at the very beginning, half way through or the end. Whether you like it or not, there is always a competitor or an alternative option just lurking around the corner. So how do you know when to sell over your competitors? Which ones are in involved? When is the ideal time to discuss them? How do you weave them into the conversation? What do you say about them?
These are skills I developed over the years and used to my advantage to get the very best results. Here are some tips that I hope help you.
Never talk trash about your competitors
The best ways to act, whether you are selling to SMB or Enterprise, is to act humble. Have humility, show that you really care and have empathy with your sales prospect. If you talk trash about your competitors at any point in the sales process you are showing none of these qualities. You also risk losing the credibility you have already earned. It is always best to show respect to everyone in your marketplace.
Know your competition inside and out
You have to be confident in your own product and service that goes without saying. The key is to know your competitors’ products and services insides and out…like the back of your hand. This will always give you complete confidence to talk about the key differences between your offering and the competitions. Knowledge is power. So if you know your market better than anyone else, it will give you a competitive advantage.
Always be tactful in your approach
It is important to find out which competitor is involved in the process as early as possible. When you can start mentioning and asking who is involved depends on the situation and the type of sale. This is also based on where they are in the buying cycle and with an inbound sales prospect this would be different an outbound sales prospect. If it’s inbound it is more likely there are closer to buying and to looking at competitors, so you could ask earlier. Always be tactful when you do decide to pull the trigger. There are several ways to do this. My favorite is to build a strong rapport first. Then be very positive, asking… “What do you really like about other providers you have seen?” This gives you a great opportunity to find out who your competitors are without directly asking. Then your follow up question can be, “What was missing for you from them?”and “What would you like to see?” This will give you, even more, clues to identify the competition.
The best way to do this is to put yourself in your competitors’ shoes. Think about how they sell their product, how they present their value proposition, and what USP’s they focus on when selling themselves. When you can do this, you can identify their strengths and weaknesses so you know which one of your USP’s to emphasize. Then the art to this is to do it in a very subtle way. If you focus on the differences very clearly, without mentioning the competitor’s name, it is just as effective. So a simple example of this would be if you have a high touch service, and your direct competition is low touch, focus on the parts of your service that make you different based on your prospects needs.
Give yourself the upper hand
At the end of the sales process, come win or lose, you always need to be able to think that you covered every possible angle. Give yourself every competitive advantage you can. We used to provide each prospect with a comparison document to encourage them to compare and contrast us vs everyone else. It had our key USP’s in one column (those focused on the areas where we were stronger) and would have a number of blank columns for them to add in the competitor information. By doing this it also shows your sales prospect you are completely transparent and have the best solution for them.
In the competitive environment of the B2B marketplace, you can give yourself the advantage over your competition, you just need to approach it in the right way.
I hope this helps