Preemptive Strikes: A Highly Effective Sales Strategy for Dealing With Bad-Mouthing Competitors

Jill Konrath | Feb 19, 2012 219 views No Comments

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What a brilliant sales strategy! That’s exactly what came to mind when I saw Rick Santorum’s new television ad. But before you watch it, a little background:

If you follow American politics, you know that Mitt Romney’s status as the “presumptive” Republican presidential nominee recently came to a screeching halt. After sweeping the recent caucuses in Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota, suddenly Santorum was surging in the polls.

But just a few weeks earlier, Newt Gingrich had been the frontrunner. That is, until Romney’s super PACs spent $15 million in Florida and flooded the airwaves with negative ads. This onslaught nearly collapsed Gingrich’s campaign.

So Santorum’s team decided to launch a preemptive strike in Michigan, the newest battleground state. They knew their candidate would be attacked on all fronts. Plus, having just a pittance of Romney’s budget, they knew they couldn’t fight him head on.

What did they do it? They put together a commercial they call “Rombo.” The setting? An abandoned warehouse. The action? A Romney look-alike slinging mud at a Santorum cutout. The message? Check it out. It’s extemely effective.

YouTube Link:

What’s so brilliant about this approach, is that they’ve essentially made it impossible for Romney to “sling mud” without looking like a total jerk. He can’t take down Santorum, without taking himself down in the process. He’s totally neutralized.

How can you use a preemptive strike in sales?

I’ll never forget when I was selling computers and up against a sleazy competitor. He was a master at trashing our systems and my company in such a way that my prospects didn’t take offense. They believed him.

After losing to him twice, I’d had enough. So the third time I did a preemptive strike and told my prospect the truth about the previous encounters. Basically I said:

“When you meet with him, he’ll tell you this … Then he’ll pull out this false study … And, he’ll insinuate that our company is in falling apart. None of that is true. I want you to know about it now, before it happens.”

Sure enough, that’s exactly what my competitor did just a few days later. How did I know? My prospect called me right away and told me.

In short, if you know that people are going to be doing dirty tricks on you – bring it up upfront. Tell the truth. Be factual. Don’t trash your competitor. And make sure you keep your emotions out of it or you’ll sound like a crazed lunatic.

Then let your prospects be the judge. The truth will win out. Romney Attack 1

YOUR TURN: Have you ever done a preemptive strike? If so, what made you take this action, what did you do and what were the results?

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