“But Sean, my products and services are great. We’re the best by a mile so why don’t we get all of the business?”
It’s a question I get asked a lot!
Unfortunately, having a great product is not enough nowadays.
You still need to prospect in the right way – you can’t assume it’s coming to you!
We live in an attention age. Grabbing and keeping hold of attention is becoming more and more difficult.
Just think about what is competing for your attention?
Family, friends, work colleagues, emails, social media, sales people, marketers, news, to do lists, phone calls, social life – you name it!
We also live in an age where there is a lot of choice so the buyer has so many options to choose from.
With the help of the internet, entry to market is easier than ever before and there is always someone to undercut you!
So in an age where attention is scarce it’s those marketers and sales people that can stand out from the competition who can really grab the attention of your prospects and customers.
It’s not about being the best any longer (unfortunately) it’s about those who can grab and then continually demand the attention of those you want to sell to.
If only it was as easy as the old AIDA formula!
The issue with this is that you’re assuming it’s easy to grab the attention of someone when in reality it’s the most difficult thing going!
In fact you need to reverse this to even grab someone’s attention in the first place, like this:
So you need to take ACTION!
You need to do something different to stand out from the rest. This will create a curiosity and an interest and only then do you have the ATTENTION of someone.
Of course it’s great when you can combine innovative prospecting and marketing coupled with a great product too but the fact that you can outwit a big brand in a competitive marketplace just by being different levels the playing field completely!
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One of the hardest situations for a salesperson to deal with is when a prospect is using an existing supplier and is satisfied with the arrangement.
Often, clients get used to a supplier and fall into a sort of ‘well of comfort’ where they accept the level of support as being the norm, and are lulled into allowing the current level of service as being the best it can be.
We’re not suggesting that your service will always be better than what they are experiencing at the moment, but there may well be opportunities lurking out there that the prospect is unaware of because they haven’t checked out the competition or they haven’t shopped around to see if there could be various options available.
How would you deal with a prospect who has been using a supplier for some time and i satisfied with the service they get?
Well, how about something like this…
“That’s OK, Mr Prospect, we realise that you are most likely satisfied with your current supplier, and that’s good. We would still like to keep in touch, as we provide information to those companies who use technology like ours. We are producing webinars and whitepapers on the new technology as we speak, and I know they will be of benefit to you. So I can make sure the information is specified for your organisation, can I just ask a couple of questions?”
What this does is;
1) Gets the prospect on your side by showing you appreciate their current position
2) Not put any pressure on the prospect
3) Help them to see how they can still stay up-to-date with information in the field
4) Ensure any information they get sent is specific to their needs
5) Show you add value up-front to them as a client
You can also convince the client that you could be their second source if ever their current supplier cannot fulfill an order, or if they aren’t as red-hot as they usually are. You’re not trying to break up their supplier/customer relationship…you’re just offering an alternative when they might not have seen one before.
If you get into a conversation with the prospect, out of curiosity you could ask when the next evaluation of suppliers is taking place. This would give you the opportunity to be in the right place at the right time when they look at future options.
Being aware of what the prospect is considering when they choose a supplier will help you next time they are looking.
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Many salespeople are afraid of their clients talking about the competition. To most salespeople, it is a word that is sure to incur fear and trepidation into their presentation or even their approach. They assume that the client will be looking at the competition and when (not if) they are mentioned, it causes deflation and disappointment that you weren’t the only one on their list.
Your competition have you up a gumtree if you think this way. Your opinions of your competition will determine your success in dealing with the client.
But there’s a competitor of yours that can cause major challenges, and for many salespeople it can stop the sale in its tracks. You can maybe cope with your competitor who has a price advantage over you; you can probably deal with your competitor who can match your quality or service; but the one competitor that can make you melt away in front of the client is when they say ‘we’re happy as we are, thanks!”.
Yes, your greatest competitor can very often be the status quo. If a customer is happy with what they are currently experiencing, it can be very difficult to get them to identify why they should change. That’s why they’re happy; they have what they want.
So, how do you compete against the status quo? There are basically two ways.
Firstly, you get the prospect to see there might be alternatives to what is currently happening. If they have good back-up service, and it is the most important criteria in their buying-decision process, then you can discuss what the result would be if they could enjoy better quality back-up service from you.
Similarly, if they have good pricing structures with their current suppliers, and again this is the criteria they judge their suppliers on, then you can determine how the offers you can make will increase their profitability as a business.
You are trying to disrupt the status quo by showing the prospect other options that might be available for them to contemplate. You show how the changes could develop their business greater than the current situation.
That way, you get them to realise that there is something different to what they currently know and do. The difference would make an impression on their business in such a way that the status quo would not still be a viable option. That’s how you overcome your biggest competitor.
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Every sales person knows that to set yourself apart from your competition is a vital component of your sales process.
Although you may get many chances to do this during the sales process, the best time to differentiate yourself is in the very beginning. Here are three powerful ways to help you eliminate your competition so they could ultimately respond with “You had me at hello!”
#1. Response Time
While it seems that everyone invests enormous amounts of time and money on increasing web presence and traffic; not as many invest equal resources on responding to those enquiries. Those emails and incoming phone calls are critical and the time it takes to respond is as important, if not more so, than how you respond.
Take any measures necessary to respond instantly to web enquires. By instantly, I do not mean a few days later or even the next day. I am also not referring to an automated response saying that you received their enquiry. You need to contact that prospect with a personal telephone call or email within minutes or as soon as physically possible. Establish alert systems, forwarding avenues; do whatever you have to do. Hire a dedicated person to respond or to distribute enquiries to the appropriate sales person if needed.
Now, I know some of you are probably thinking, “Now, wait a minute, Sean…that can cost a fortune and we do very well with incoming leads.” Do you honestly know exactly what your enquiry-to-lead conversation rate is? Do you know exactly how many calls came in to the front desk and how many become bona-fide leads? Do you have actual data or are you guessing?
When you get that enquiry, chances are yours is not the only site that prospect hit, nor the only request for more information they submitted online. People have become used to waiting days or even weeks to hear from a real live person with answers to their questions. Respond instantly and with customised information not generic sales-brochure type rhetoric.
#2. Give Something
Now, in that instant response, or if this is an outgoing call or contact, give the prospect something first before you begin asking for business. By this, I mean you need to offer the prospect information, ideas and advice that are useful to them, and do so without the thought of receiving anything in return. Educate the prospect during that first contact. Help them.
#3. Become a Consultant and Advisor
During that first contact, you need to raise yourself to the level of a consultant who is a leader in their industry. To accomplish this successfully, you need to ask THE question. THE question is one for which the prospect has not yet thought of. You need to ask a question that shows the prospect that you understand their situation and problems even more than they do. You need to ask that question that the prospect cannot answer.
It is that question to where the prospect’s only response is something like, “Uh…um. I never thought about that. What do you think?” When this happens, you have become the advisor!
If you do not currently have several such questions that make the prospect dig deep; that uncover areas of problems and pain that the prospect is unaware…then you need go back to the drawing board and figure out a list of questions that help to unearth their true hot buttons. However, you cannot TELL. You must ASK.
Offer some free information or advice.
Ask a question that solidifies you as an expert and you will eliminate competition before they can compete!
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Many questions we get asked here at MTD revolve around selling against the competition. If prospects mention they are talking to other suppliers, how should you handle it? What’s the best way to approach the subject without it sounding apologetic or obviously downgrading their capabilities?
The best way is to define how the competition are good, but only in specific areas that wouldn’t be of any use to your prospect. If the prospect were in different circumstances, maybe the competitor would be right, but not in the situation they are currently facing.
And of course, your prospect doesn’t face those conditions.
Now, this means you have to do your homework and know what the competition is doing. Get onto Google Alerts to give yourself the updates you need before your clients get to hear about it. Learn what the competition is doing to counteract your offerings. Be aware of what specials they are working on. Only by doing these things will you be able to use this technique with your clients and prospects.
Try these ideas:
1) Discuss how the market has changed recently, especially in the prospect’s industry, and how the competitor may have been up-to-date until a year or two ago, but now they are languishing behind your product’s abilities to match the prospect’s needs
2) If technology, innovation and economic realities have revolutionised the way that you and your clients do business, make sure you emphasise how your products and services are way ahead of your competitors in ways that add value to what your prospect can offer their customers
3) By identifying changes that have actually happened, you convince your prospect that times have changed and you are fitter and smarter to help them in the future. Remember, they probably chose your competitor at that time because it was right for them at that time. Because this is a different era, you can convince them that a decision made months or years ago was right then, but the decision now needs to be (must be) different. You can congratulate them on seeking out different suppliers because it is the right thing to do now that massive changes have happened in the market place.
Ideas like these help your prospect see that they are making a good decision in seeking out changes to their current supplier base. That’s the first step to laying the foundation for change with your prospects if they are using or thinking of using your competitors.
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