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Taking the High Road

What are your thoughts about your competition? Do you admire them, dislike them, want to work for them someday What positive and negative things have you heard or know about them? And how do you represent them to your customers?

These 3 questions are important for many reasons.

Know Your Competition

Regardless of your personal thoughts, you need to understand your competition. If you are in sales, knowing your competitor’s strengths, weaknesses, tendencies and general sales approach gives you an incredible edge and not knowing about them puts you at a severe disadvantage.

To serve as an example, let’s assume that you are in a sales cycle and learn that your main competitor, Excellence in Service, Inc. is also being considered by your prospect. But since you have done your homework and have researched Excellence in Service, Inc., you are prepared to counter their known strengths with strengths and benefits of your own. You may know, based on “cognitive experience,” that they will be priced around 5% lower than you will be and that your prospect has expressed that they are very “price sensitive.” You also know that their rep is well experienced but has a history of “over promising and under delivering.”

Armed with this information, you find yourself in a position of strength and can better formulate your sales approach, pricing and closing techniques.

But if you only know that Excellence in Service, Inc. is a strong competitor and know nothing about their approach, pricing or representatives, you will only be in a position of “quoting and hoping.”

What to do With Your Intel?

Using our above example, if you decide to make sure that your prospect is aware that Excellence in Service’s rep is known for over-promising and provide ample customer statements that support your claim, you have just thrown away your position of strength and have positioned yourself as a fearful and “low value” sales professional.

Throwing your customer under the proverbial bus may accomplish your intention of getting your prospect to not buy from your competitor but often convinces them to not buy from you as well. Very few people want to buy from someone who knocks down their competition as it displays unprofessionalism and makes them believe that you are afraid of your competitor.

Shakespeare, in his play “Hamlet,” wrote a line that should provide direction for all sales people. “The lady doth protest too much, me thinks.”

If we dispense of the language and apply a more current interpretation, we arrive at; “If you talk negatively about something over and over again, or try to deny something with a lot of passion, you are giving credibility and admission to the very thing you are talking about.”

If you tell the prospect that your competitor doesn’t follow through, frequently promises things beyond his ability to deliver and back up your claims with other customers who can confirm your statements, your customer may begin to see that YOU are the one who drops the ball and that you probably have a bunch of unhappy customers who would love to complain about how YOU over-promised. The end result, you lose the sale by your attempts to position yourself above your competitor.

Take the High Road

Instead of trying to knock your competitor down, use the information that you have collected about them to build yourself, your company and your product up. If you know your competitor “drops the ball,” give your prospect customer reference letters that speak to how well you served them and how dedicated you were before, during and after the sale was made. Show your prospect something that your competitor cannot. If you show them how good you are at customer service, your prospect will probably want to see the same from your competitor. When that happens, you win!

Taking the high road takes additional work and is certainly more challenging than just attacking your competitor and revealing their weaknesses. But doing so lets prospects and customers know that they are dealing with a confident and professional sales person who does not need to attack a competitor to make himself look better.

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