There will always be competitors upstream, downstream and alongside your solution offering. Neutralizing three other constant competitors first, however, often spells the difference between receiving an invitation to an RFP bake-off (becoming part of the noise) or aligning as a lasting, trusted inside advisor, effectively closing the door on that competitive noise.
Even if you were the only game in town, you still have three competitors: Yourself, your Prospect and Apathy. What steps are you taking to neutralize them?
This is the most obvious of the three. Here are a few self-test questions. Are you a student of your own profession i.e. do you invest in your own training and education? Do you fully understand your own offering, the competitive landscape, and your ideal prospect’s latent pain? Are you able to articulate your value proposition in memorable, compelling terms? Are you able to accurately assess and reflect your prospect’s pain, budget and timing? Is your elevator pitch really that good? Are you able to politically align with your prospect’s decision makers and influencers so that they become your champions?
Your prospect may be thinking they can solve their pain on their own, or some other way. This is also often called the “build vs. buy” phenomenon. They have already invested in people, process and technology assets; they might be able to re-deploy and cobble a solution from those assets, but they may not have weighed the opportunity cost of solving it on their own. Can you present a compelling proposal showing how your solution will be more cost effective and thereby free your prospect to re-focus their assets more effectively on other priorities to attain greater value? If you understand this, then you are also prepared to defend your reasonable pricing and position it well. Bear in mind, though, that corporate will can be strong; if internal momentum is carrying your prospect toward a “build, not buy” result, you might still cultivate the opportunity as a long term advisory relationship, ultimately helping your prospect succeed. Just remember, you are in sales. Don’t dwell too long on advisory roles if they diminish your long term prospects.
Your prospect may indeed express pain but may think solving it is not a priority. Can you present a business case proving that their potential loss in not adopting your solution now is unacceptable, and thereby compel them to buy? You may have to be patient about their own self-discovery process here; you could conceivably work with them to build the ROI case and groom advocates….or, you could help them find a way to redeploy current budget dollars and assets based on the potential savings (short term ROI) of adopting your solution. Have you asked the right questions to gain that level of insight, present that case, and accelerate the sale?
What are you doing to neutralize your three constant competitors?
Help me in my attempt to boil years of experience into the shortest sales training treatise ever. Have I omitted anything? Could I express it differently? Are there more layers? Of course… but my question is: does this one page article adequately stimulate all that subsequent thinking? You decide, and help me shape it. I welcome your comments.
- It’s 2011. Do You Know Who Your Competitors Are? (outspokenmedia.com)
- What’s In Your Sales Backpack? (customerthink.com)
- Competition Got You Down? (customerthink.com)