Why Sales Guys Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About the Competition


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You just wrapped up a great meeting with your prospect and things are on the right track – then they throw you that ubiquitous curve ball and ask, what’s your take on your competitor?

Think carefully! But, it’s really not something to fear. It’s an open invitation to paint yourself as the right solution.

You Are a Resource

Think of yourself as a kind of advisor, a consigliere like Tom Hagen was for Don Corleone and the Family. Even though you have your own self interest at heart, you also know that your prospect’s best interest is in your best interest.

Hagen was the voice of reason, as you must be. Do NOT bash your competition like an insecure juiced up frat boy or come across as defensive. Instead, be the calm resource that will help paint a picture of what the outcomes might be should your prospect choose you or them.

Know Your Competitor Better Than They Know Themselves

You’re serious about becoming a legendary sales guy and making mondo amounts of money, so you of course know your competition like the back of your hand. There are two kinds of competition from your point of view: worthy and unworthy. Here’s how you might handle a conversation about each kind.

Unworthy Competition

Years ago, my team and I were going head to head against one other company, a software vendor, for a contract with a prospect. We knew our competition wasn’t the right fit.

“Frankly, we’re puzzled about what they’re offering,” we told the prospect. “They’re asking a question that hasn’t even been asked.”

Ever hear of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or the principle of elegance in systems? The simplest solution is often the best. We offered the simplest solution. Our competitors offered software that would have required a complete reconfiguration of our prospect’s CRM system – a cost of time and money that just didn’t seem necessary.

We explained our thinking in an analytical way and guided the prospect to a favorable conclusion – us. We were able to do this because we thoroughly understood our prospect’s needs and our competition’s limits.

A Worthy Adversary

Here’s an experience that shows how to give your opinion on a worthy adversary while simultaneously framing yourself in a flattering light.

We were competing for a contract against Deloitte, one of largest companies in the world, a distinguished juggernaut with almost 100 years experience behind them. This was going to be a tall order.

We couldn’t badmouth them and there was really nothing to critique. What could we do? We had to damn them with great praise.

There are virtues of being an underdog, like we were in this situation. A smaller company like ours was more lithe, efficient, able to think outside the box. Being such as large organization, Deloitte could not move as quickly.

In this case, we knew that our prospect was on a tight timeline, so we leveraged time as our strength while managing to avoid bashing Deloitte and coming across as a bunch of assholes.

Don’t Avoid the Competition Conversation

I know it’s awkward to talk about the competition – there seem to be so many opportunities to put your foot in your mouth. But you do yourself a disservice by saying nothing. Here’s why:

To make sales successful, you need to be seen as a resource, a partner. If you throw your hands up or pass it off to someone else in your organization, it degrades your value. The way to sell the biggest best deal is by understanding the prospect and fitting your product into their strategic goals, with a personal sales assistant app like Spiro to keep you focused.

If you just can’t bring yourself to say anything on the spot, offer to check into the competition and come back with a good answer.

Worst case scenario is that your prospect goes with the competition. Oh well, shit happens! Often a buyer changes their mind about what they need and might engage multiple vendors in different sectors by the time they make a decision. There will often be other opportunities down the line.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t shy away from the competition convo, you should expect it. Frame your competition in a way that your solution aligns with their goals and your competitor’s falls outside of it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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