Sales strategy – defeating the invisible competitor

Sales strategy - defeating the invisible competition

Sales strategy – defeating the invisible competition

Competition is present in every major B2B account. Today it is diverse and dynamic and not just based on price. Having a clear picture of the competitive landscape is crucial to crafting a successful sales strategy.

When most salespeople think about the competition they usually think of the companies they regularly face as competitors. Interestingly, this is only one source of competition in major account sales.

There are two others: passive competition and competition for resources. Both sources are important for salespeople to consider and to keep on their radar screen. After all whether you lose a sale to a real competitor or to a customer who decides to do nothing, or to a customer that decides to spend its resources on something else – you still lost the sale!

  • What is passive competition?  Sometimes the most challenging competition is the customer “doing nothing.” In major accounts there are two sales going on at the same time.  First you have to be perceived by the customer as better than the competition.  The second sale is about the customer perceiving the value of committing resources to changing the status quo. To win the second sale salespeople need a strategy for overcoming the no-decision momentum.  In many cases the salesperson wins the first sale and loses the second and ends up with no new business.
  • A second source of competition comes from broadening the definition of competition. Often the competition is not for a similar product or service but a “competition for resources.” What happens is a company who is selling an entirely different product is competing with you for the same budget resources.

Regardless of the type of competition there is an old saying that conveys some wisdom to winning against competition.  The old saying is – “keep your eye on the ball.”

When it comes to formulating an effective strategy for dealing with competition, the ball is the customer.  For example when it is a real competitor it is easy to take your eye off the ball and fall into the trap of getting in a defensive mode by reacting to the competition. They set the rules – you play their game.  That is not an effective way to manage a competitor.  Successful salespeople know it is critical to stay focused on the customer’s needs, challenges and concerns. Top performers focus on the customer and manage the competition.

 

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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