3 Strategies to Defend Against Big Competition Sellers

Sure, your product or service might be fantastic— but so is everyone else’s. 

To really turn heads in today’s competitive marketplace, you and your sales team must be deft in your prospecting—and maybe even a little tricky. Here are three strategies for toppling your big competition sellers:

Strategy One: Talk to your prospects early.   

The CEB Marketing Leadership Council recently conducted a study reporting that buyers aren’t contacting sellers until they’ve already completed 57% of the buying process. I interpret this to mean that buyers are constructing their requirements list and defining what solutions they think they want, even before talking to a seller. 

Perhaps, through web searches and conversations with peers, buyers are indeed crafting their own solutions. But buyers will talk to a seller during the buying process if the seller is positioning himself as a thinking partner (or someone that will challenge their current thinking to bring new insights and a different way at looking at the situation and how to address it).

The key is to talk to your prospects early so you can help them craft their solutions or list of requirements. You’ll be able to more effectively influence their final decision and get a leg up on your competition.

Strategy Two: Create a plausible emergency at the right time.

Selling is the process of aligning with your client’s buying cycle. To do this effectively, a seller must be able to discover, diagnose and confirm a goal, problem or need before suggesting a solution.

During the process, many sellers will shy away from asking the question: Who or what is my competition? Sellers fear the buyer’s response, choosing instead to be the ostrich with its head in the sand. That’s too bad. I always recommend asking this question because when you get an answer, it’s the perfect time to create a plausible emergency.

A plausible emergency is crafted by a conversation you have with a potential client. It begins with the question: “How would you feel if … [insert a potentially negative and/or dramatic situation your prospect could face]?” After your client answers, ask “When dealing with this situation, would it help if … [describe how your unique capability could answer the emergency]?” Next, name your feature.

This illustrates precisely to your prospect how their problem can only be answered by one of your unique features or offerings, leading you straight to the top vendor slot.

Strategy Three: Change the rules of the competitive game.

Very often during a sales engagement a seller will encounter a trusted advisor, an integrator, a channel partner, or some outside client that is involved in the deal directly or indirectly. Identify that entity and sell to it as much as you sell to the end-user. This is called flanking, pre-empting, or fractioning the competition, and it’s vital in today’s complex selling world.

What do you think—will these strategies leave your competition in the dust? What has or hasn’t worked for you in the past? 


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