In major B2B sales, the competition is always lurking about. So, it is a good idea to pause and review some ideas for handling the threat. First, let’s review a major pitfall that should be avoided and then explore three strategic considerations related to understanding the competition.
- The Pitfall. It is easy to fall prey to the trap of getting in a defensive mode and reacting to the competition – they set the rules and you play their game.
- The Best Practice. Focus on the customer’s needs and analyze your competitive position from the customer’s perspective.
- The Bottom Line. Stay focused on the customer – play your game: set the rules and leverage your strengths – and then manage the competition.
In addition to standard crowd that comprise your major competitors, there are three additional strategic competitive threats: passive competition, too narrow a definition of the competition, and products which are not significantly different. Here are some suggestions for overcoming these three threats:
- Proactively address Passive Competition. Sometimes the most challenging competition is the customer “doing nothing.” In those situations a strategy for overcoming the passive competition is just as important as an actual competitor.
- Broaden the Definition of Competition. Often the competition is not for a similar solution but a “competition for dollars” for addressing a different set of needs. Handling this threat requires a deeper understanding of what is going on in the account.
- Differentiate on Added-Value Advantages. In some cases your product and the competitor’s products are not significantly different. Then it is critical to differentiate yourself by profiling the value of all the other services and capabilities that comprise your total solution for addressing the customer’s needs.
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