Anytime you are selling something from a B2B standpoint, you are not only selling your product or services to your prospect, but you are also outselling and out positioning a competitor. That competitor in some cases may be in the same situation as you – selling into the company, or they could be the incumbent you are trying to knock out.
The idea for this blog came to me while conversing with a prospect account for a client of ours that I have been working for the better part of two years. They are in the industrial space and have been using the same supplier for over 10 years. Our client’s service is similar to the incumbents obviously, otherwise we wouldn’t be having a discussion and differentiated enough that the door is now open to conversation particularly as the prospects market economics have changed. I haven’t closed this deal yet, but it did get me thinking about what it takes to sell to your prospect and beat out a competitor or knock out an incumbent.
I have listed a few strategies, tactics and tips for how to outsell and out position your competitor, below.
In many cases, your prospect may not want to give you all the business in one shot due to the risk involved in switching vendors. You don’t have a proven track record with them so they want to test drive your services on a small scale first. This can be a great opportunity to showcase your skill set and the benefits you provide. The goal is to do a great job and push into the other areas of the business and knock out your competitor entirely.
Providing overall better value can be a winning strategy. Do you provide additional services that your competitors don’t and are of value to your prospect? Does your product last longer, run more efficiently, is it more reliable? These are all value adds that drive bottom line benefit.
Lower Total Cost of Ownership – vs. Lower Price
Competing on price is a challenging place to play. It oftentimes leads to simply lower profits and still allows the competition to undercut you if they value the project or customer enough. A better idea is to sell on the lowest total cost of ownership. This not only takes into account price – but also the other items that affect the service or use of the product such as administration time to set up and manage, speed or efficiency and the time value of money associated with this, cost of capital, staffing resources etc.
Being Diligent in Follow-Up
Staying top of mind is key in selling. Prospecting takes time particularly in B2B sales – we have done many blogs that touch on the length of B2B sales cycles and part of winning in the long run is being consistently persistent. Your product or service may be of interest but it could be 15 months before the budget for that opens up and if you are not staying in touch over that time, your prospect will inevitably forget about you. Winning in sales and beating out your competitor is about staying in the game.
A big selling factor for prospects can be your record of innovation and investment into your own business (basically R&D spend). Prospects and customers alike want to know you are always looking to improve your solution in such ways that it helps them drive greater profits, lower expenses, reduce a liability and improve efficiencies. Innovation lets your prospect and customer know you are serious about their needs and about your commitment to the space. Sitting idle for too long allows your competition to catch up and eventually overtake you.
Highlight the Competitive Differences Clearly, If You Can
Sometimes you need to expressly differentiate yourself from your competitor by hitting on certain core aspects of their offering and how yours differs. This is not an opportunity to speak ill of them, rather an opportunity to honestly differentiate yourself from them. These differences can cover a wide range of things including better speed and efficiency, improved security, lower capex needs and so forth. As you are selling, always take note when speaking to your prospects and customers what competitor they are using or have used in the past and what the nuances of that product are.
Being a Better Listener
A great deal of selling effectively is listening to the prospects needs and then selling your product or solution in such a way that most effectively solves their business pain. Being honest obviously. Going in with all the answers is the wrong approach.
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