Winning and Retaining Business When There is Competition


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We were away for most of April, watching our son play his senior year of college baseball.  When we left Massachusetts, the calendar said early April, the grass and gardens were still dormant and the weather felt like mid-January with some games played in 25-degree wind chills!

When we returned home three weeks later, we looked outside and saw life!  Flowers were in bloom, the Bradford Pears and Crab Apple trees had blossoms, and the green grass had already been mowed a couple of times.  Although we weren’t there, nature did its thing without us.

Pivot to sales.

It doesn’t matter whether salespeople are in account management or account executive roles. The sales equivalent of nature at work occurs at both target accounts and existing accounts.  When salespeople aren’t physically present or on the phone with decision makers at the account, it is likely that one of their competitors is physically present or on the phone competing for the business or trying to take their business away.  Just because a salesperson doesn’t see or hear about it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

What can you do?

As with everything in sales, the first step is awareness.  When salespeople are unaware, there isn’t anything they can do to improve and be more effective. They don’t know what went wrong, why it went wrong, when it went wrong, or what they could have done differently. But when they have awareness of their sales process and where they are in the sales process, they can take a more purposeful approach to the sale.  When they know who their competitors are, how they compare, what the challenges are, and how receptive the customer is, they can think about those things and more importantly, ask about those things at the appropriate time.

Let’s return to the analogy.  When a salesperson doesn’t see or hear about a competitor, that does not mean a conversation or meeting didn’t occur.  Let’s assume that you have already learned about competitors that your customer or prospect is talking with, meeting, considering, or inviting to present.  If that’s not true then get with the program – you’re running out of time, and might already be wasting it. Do it right now.

Most salespeople are not capable of much more than presenting, offering discounts, and following up.  Therefore, an effective consultative approach based on value should differentiate you quite well.  The following test will help you determine whether or not you successfully differentiated.  During your next conversation, ask if they had subsequent conversations with [competitors] and if they consider them more or less favorably than before.  If there was a change, learn why their impressions changed. What is it that they like and what don’t they like? While you’re having this discussion, you should find out if their impression of you has changed since your first discussion and, if so, how and why.

Selling is about communicating effectively, knowing exactly where you stand, and what it will take to win (or retain) the business.  However, while you should be aware of those questions, you should never directly ask those questions.  You don’t ask, “Where do we stand?” or “What will it take to win the business?”  That would be as stupid as asking your date (or spouse) what it will take to have sex tonight.  Take baby steps with your prospects as you would take baby steps when romancing your date or spouse.

And remember, you are only one part of the equation. Your competitor might be outworking you, outsmarting you, and outselling you, so do more, ask more of yourself, ask more questions, ask better questions, ask tougher questions and compete!

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The post Winning and Retaining Business When There is Competition appeared first on Kurlan & Associates, Inc..

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