In order to out sell a competitor you need better products, right? Wrong. Let’s be clear, you do need to be able to satisfy the customers key purchasing criteria, the following advice will not work with a substandard offering. I’m not trying to turn you into a magician.
The first step in beating any competitor, at any time, is to remove the misconception that the best products always win. For those of us old enough to remember, VHS beat Betamax as the main video recorder (the thing before DVDs) despite being an inferior technology at the same price point.
As I always ask in my Sales Training Courses, deal reviews, and any deal plan that I oversee, the first and most important question is, “Where is the prospect in the purchasing process?”
If the prospect has not yet decided to make a change, your job is to build their need and create a business case to show why change is required and the benefits it will bring. As part of the business case, help the prospect to build a specification of the product/service that will realise the benefits in the business case. If you have features that perform better than the competition, ensure that those performance levels are set as the minimum bar to tender for the business. Any supplier that cannot attain those performance levels are ruled out, reducing the field of competitors. Any performance criteria where you are behind the competition, help to make the criteria vague so the same does not happen to you. Also try to reduce the importance of such criteria in terms of contribution to achieving the business case benefits.
If the prospect has already decided to change, and you have not been involved in the specification design, you need to get the prospect to re-evaluate their specification. If you don’t it is just plain luck if your product / service matches their specification.
When the prospect is nearing a decision, create value by helping them to anticipate and deal with any concerns that arise. Don’t just keep asking for a decision like the other sales guys will be doing.
If there is no distance between you and the competition in the negotiation phase, you may think it will come down to price. It won’t. It’s still down to value, but the customer is throwing price at you as a distraction. This is where you need to get creative with the value options that you put on the negotiating table. How can you package up your offering to create more value? Think wider than the product, by looking at the value created by your whole company and your wider team. Think about personal and politics wins for your prospect that do not appear in the business case because they can often be hard to quantify.
Even if the competition get the deal this time, stay close during implementation, as things may go wrong. And finally, the prospect will tender for the business again. Learn what really lost you the deal (beyond the old price chestnut). Correct your approach and apply the above. You may have lost the battle but you will win the war!
Conclusion. You can outsell any competition. First of all you need to recognise that you can. Then adopt the above sales techniques to make sure you do.
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Article by Alistair McQuade