Understanding the competitive threat – taking a broader view

Competitive Threats

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 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.

Other related blog posts you might find interesting are:

Eight ways for sales reps to differentiate from the competition

Selling value is more important than ever

How can sales reps create value nd differentiate themselves from competitors?

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©2012 Sales Horizons, LLC

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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