My Competitor Has a Better Product
The topic of this issues article is actually
my response to a question emailed in by a reader, Peter Brunton.
QUESTION - "At the moment, my competitor's have
a far better product/deal, due to circumstances out of my control. However,
customers go to the competitor and then come to me to compare. How do I go about
convincing the customer that our service/product is better even though on paper
ANSWER - Thanks for the question Peter. I'm
going to answer this to the extent that I can without knowing what it is that
you or your competitor sell.
I believe that this is a common experience for
many of us in sales. Customers use us for free for all kinds of freebies - information,
demos, test drive's, consulting, etc. Sure, it is good to give away something
free to expose people to your offering (the EGOPOWER newsletter is an example
This has gone way too far however, and it's
our fault in the sales profession. We have been bludgeoned into thinking that
we must do whatever it is that the customer asks of us. That we should jump
through hoops like trick dogs, if that gets us just a little bit closer to *possibly*
getting a sale.
Freebies should be used as a marketing tool.
The purpose of freebies is to generate a lead. And that's where the free giveaways
should end. Once you have the lead, and are able to engage the customer in live
conversation, the marketing ends and the selling begins.
Successful selling is an exchange of value for
value. It has always been this way since people traded grains and cloth for
chickens and pigs. Today as sales professionals we are "representing" a company
and its products. This is why we are called "sales representatives". We act
as the agent, representing our company in the trade, representing our company
in the exchange of value for value.
As sales reps, we offer significant value to
our prospective customers. Yes our products have value, but I am not talking
about that. The value that we offer is our knowledge and our time. We know a
lot about our products, about our industry, about future trends in our marketplace,
about our competition, and many other things.
We sell our products every day. Our customers
(most of them at least) do not buy these products every day. So our knowledge
has value. If you don't believe this to be true, then you either need to think
about this a little more, or you work in an industry that is about to get disintermediated
So what should you do?
Respect your value as a salesperson.
Get commitments from your prospects.
Get a commitment - Qualify them first for pains/wants,
budget, and decision capability, Then before presenting details about your product.
Get a commitment to make a definitive decision upon completion of your presentation
or the proof step of your sales cycle. For this to work, you must have asked
really good questions to elicit the important pains/wants that are driving the
sale. You must know that they have the money to buy it. And you must be presenting
to the decision-maker.
You only have so much time in a day, so use
it well. If you chase every deal that comes your way, you are losing real sales
that you could have gone out and looked for.
Break any of these rules, and you are simply
rolling the dice. (Yeah I know, this works for some people - but you'll never
make it really big in sales winging it this way).
Notice that what I outlined above is the reverse
order of the way many salespeople have learned to sell. The key thing that I
am telling you to do here, is to present AFTER you have qualified the prospect
and AFTER you have a commitment to make a decision.
If you have a long sales cycles involving multiple
levels of decision-making, you can use this same approach. Instead of getting
a commitment for a decision up-front, you can get a commitment to be taken to
the appropriate next step. That could be a meeting with a higher-level decision-maker,
or it could be earning the right to give a presentation to a more influential
audience. I call this "chaining commitments".
This is the best solution. By getting commitments,
you will stop wasting time with the people who aren't serious about you. By
asking good questions up-front (a topic for another newsletter), you may uncover
something that your competitor missed, giving you a chance to change the rules
of the sale set early on by your competitor's getting there first.
If your product isn't better, I don't believe
that you can persuade or convince someone that it is. Most people aren't stupid.
They will figure out eventually that you are trying to pull one over on them,
if they don't figure that out while you are actually trying to do it to them.
Lastly, even with the most competitive products,
the number two product usually has some advantages over the number one product.
Determine these advantages, and focus your selling efforts on the prospects
who want such benefits. Create questions designed to uncover the pains/wants
that would cause someone to want such benefits. Follow the process above of
questions and commitments first, presentations last, and you'll find yourself
making money even when you aren't selling for the number one company.