Displacing an Incumbent Competitor


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Disrupting the current relationship that your prospect has with your competitor can be a challenge. While it’s best to take the high road, by selling on your strengths and not disparaging the competition, there are simple tacts to discover the vulnerability of your competitor.

Sales Training

The next time you run into a prospect who already has a solution in place, try this line of questioning.

“Mr. Prospect, on a scale of 1 – 10, how satisfied are you with your current supplier? Regardless of their answer, followup with: “What would make it a ten?”
This simple, two question combination allows you to gauge the prospect’s current level of satisfaction with your competition AND it provides insight into the competitor’s vulnerability. It really is an amazing technique to get at the truth and to expose how you’ll ultimately be able to unseat your competition.
Interestingly enough, out of the hundreds of times I’ve used that technique, I would say that 90% of time the answer came back as a seven. That’s odd, right? I think so too; and I see it as something I refer to as the dry cleaner dynamic. Most of us rely on dry cleaners for care of our clothes and garments. Yet, most of us are not that thrilled with the level of service that we experience from our specific dry cleaning store.
So, why don’t we change cleaners? It’s because we’re satisfied just enough to not warrant the hassle of changing cleaners. The dry cleaner has to do something very bad for us to change; or, we are disrupted in our thinking by a new dry cleaner offer that has been presented to us.
In other words, if the new cleaner didn’t somehow make themselves known to us, we’d sloth along with our current cleaner.
Unseating a competitor can be tough, especially a long standing competitor. But remember, familiarity breeds contempt. That long standing relationship may seem to be cemented in stone, but there is a good chance that the vendor is not providing all that they can, or perhaps there is some unknown gouging going on in the pricing. Many companies treat prospects and non-customers better than existing customers, do dig out the truth of the relationship and you’ll discover the path to penetrating the relationship.
It takes a good salesperson to dig out the truth and expose the vulnerabilities of the incumbent supplier. One simple technique to discover more information is to simply repeat (as a question) the last three to four words your prospect just uttered.
Here’s an example of how that might play out:
Salesperson: “you already have a solution in place?”
Prospect: “Well yes, we’ve worked with XYZ for several years.”
Salesperson: “XYZ for several years?”
Prospect: “Yes, they handle all of our logistical needs.”
Salesperson: “All of your logistical needs?”
Prospect: “Yes, blah, blah, blah”
Salesperson: “Blah, blah, blah?”
Do you see how this works? The conversation continues and gets deeper and deeper. You don’t want to patronize any prospect, but this simple technique has the potential to extend any conversation for quite some time; all while peeling the onion back on the truth. Try it sometime with your spouse or friend and see how effective it can be to get the person to continue in the conversation.

Sales training often focuses on market penetration and improving sales effectiveness. At Empowered Sales training, our programs focus on your needs. We review your pipeline of current opportunities and the challenges and successes of your sales activities. You’ll be amazed at how this approach really can empower sales success.

We leverage deep personal experience, gems from industry icons, classic sales methodologies and innovative practices to empower your sales organization and improve sales effectiveness.

The Empowered Sales website offers several free sales guides including: Book More Meetings, Get The Decision Maker on the Phone and The Top Ten Reasons Sales Professionals Fail on the Phone. The Empowered Sales You Tube channel offers dozens of free sales videos. Contact Empowered Sales today to schedule a free Needs Assessment Interview.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kevin Graham
Kevin Graham is an author, speaker and expert on empowerment, sales and leadership. As managing director of Empowered Sales Training, Kevin works with organizations to empower sales success. Formerly, Kevin was a top performing sales executive in the ultra competitive technology sector. He's qualified for President's Club status in three Fortune 500 companies, carried the Olympic Torch and played in a national championship.


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