Sales Momentum works with Fortune 1000 companies to improve sales productivity. Today being good is not good enough. Your sales force must not only be able to sell a competitive advantage; they must be a competitive advantage.
Our sales training programs are built for today’s hypercompetitive marketplace. They are based on the best practices emerging from our thirty plus years of work with the organizations that are getting it right.
- Beating the competition in an undifferentiated market
When is selling the most fun? Well, one situation is when you clearly have a superior product. A product that is better, faster and maybe even shiner. It’s the “killer product” scenario like the Xerox copier vs. the mimeo machine.
Unfortunately due to global competition and advanced manufacturing technologies, today “them days” are rare and if they do occur they are difficult to sustain. Today even when you have a superior product a competitor is likely come out with one that is just as good or better than yours in half the time of yesteryear. Or you come face-to-face with the dreadful “it’s good enough” response.
So let’s take the worse possible case. You are selling in a market where the competition either has products that are just as good as yours or they have products that are perceived by the customers to be “good enough” compared to yours. How do you adapt your selling strategy to these market scenarios?
Two strategies are suggested. First you need to better understand the competition as viewed by the customer. Secondly, you need to adjust your sales strategy to the undifferentiated market reality – you have to do some things differently. Let’s take at look at both strategies starting with developing a better understanding the competition.
Managing the competition. As the old saying goes – “you have to keep your eye on the ball” and the ball, particularly in an undifferentiated market, is the customer when it comes to executing an effective sales strategy for beating the competition. It is easy to take your eye off the ball and fall prey to the trap of getting in a defensive mode by reacting to the competition. It is critical to stay focused on the customer’s needs, challenges and concerns. Top performers focus on the customer and manage the competition.
If you focus on the customer and can answer these four questions (CAPS) about the competitor you have a better chance of executing a sales strategy where you win and they come in second:
- Capacity. What is the customer’s perception of the competitor’s major capabilities and limitations?
- Assessment. Why is the customer considering the competitor for the present opportunity?
- Performance. If the competitor is presently in the account what are they doing exceptionally well and poorly and why?
- Strategy. What is their sales strategy for the present opportunity?
Adjusting your sales strategy. How can sales people differentiate themselves from their competitors in an undifferentiated market? Over the years we have asked that question to sales managers. Here is what they said:
- Sell a total solution. To differentiate, sales reps must move beyond the product and identify the value-adds that will help the customer achieve their business outcomes.
- Understand all aspects of the competition. The competition isn’t just the other company or its products – it’s also the company’s sales reps. So know the competitor’s sales reps, their histories with the account, and their relationships with the customer.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of relationships. Although effective B2B selling is not just about building relationships, selling is still a personal business. People buy from people they know and like – so get to know all the people that are engaged in the buyer’s decision journey and understand what value means from their individual perspectives.
- Be an effective communicator. Do what you say you are going to do, if you don’t know don’t pretend, if you make a mistake admit it, correct it, and make sure you don’t repeat it, have unbridled enthusiasm, and convey a compelling belief in your company.
- Create an accurate picture of the competitive landscape. Learn your natural supporters and adversaries and spend time developing willing and able internal champions. Determine how much impact the various players have on the buying decision and have an accurate picture of the competition’s perceived position from the customer’s view.
- Look at the big picture. Understand the external issues facing the company – e.g., economic shifts, regulatory changes, and industry trends.
- Leverage your experience. Bring breadth to the sales environment by helping the customer see how other companies have tackled similar issues – have the stories available to bring that experience to life.
- Be aware of passive competitors. Passive competitors are products or services that aren’t direct competitors in that they don’t do what your product or service does – but they are competing for the same bucket of money. This happens more often than one might think – a medical device, for example, not being adopted by a hospital because resources will be dedicated to buying capital equipment.
- Helping the customer understand the consequences of inaction. It’s very common to go through a sales cycle and find out at the end that the customer decides that doing nothing is preferred course of action. Sometimes this happens for good reasons – like the customer decides they are not ready to make a purchase or the resources required aren’t available. In other cases, they don’t want to deal with the disruption that the purchase might bring. Here you can sometimes beat the competition by helping the customer see the consequences of inaction.
In the end if you are going to beat the completion in an undifferentiated market you must distinguish yourself by how you sell, not just by want you sell. You have to be the competitive advantage.
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Sales simulations are more versatile, more effective, and more affordable than ever! So companies are increasingly embracing them. Sales Momentum has developed customized sales simulations for companies facing a variety of sales challenges - from launching new products to developing sales coaching skills to selling as a team to adapting to new go to market strategies.