One of the things that used to drive me nuts as a VP of Sales and Marketing was if one of my regional managers or a independent representatives used “Why or competition sucks” selling. You know the guy, he talks about the competition more than his own product. He shares “horror stories he heard from other customers” about your competitoin that may or may not be true.
This out-dated style never impressed me, and today with a sales enablement 2.0 environment, it actually creates an interruption. Interruptions turn customers and possible customers into shoppers. The internet has given buyers the ability to see behind the black curtain of sales product information and they can conduct research without talking to a salesman. When your rep challenges a competitor, particularly when that competitor is a current vendor of that buyer, he is actually challenging the buyer. Do you want your sales rep saying “Hey, what are you an idiot or what for buying ______?” no, I didn’t think so.
The recently published Razor Fish report indicates what influences buyers; “Trust plays a key role in influencing a consumer’s interest in purchasing a product” Peer networks and influencers play a major role in the buying process today. So when your rep is selling against a particular vendor, he is not only challenging the buyer’s decision making, he is also “calling out” that buyer’s peer and influencer network who he went to before he made the purchase.
If you have rep(s) using the “why our competition sucks” method it must end. To turn these reps around use the following guidelines;
· Product knowledge– make sure your salesperson understands your product and more importantly the problems it solves for buyers as well as the process buyers use to buy your type of product
· Listening, as I wrote in warning….. Buyers share why they don’t buy, reps who do not listen was the #1 reason buyers do not buy, NOT PRICE
· Conversation distribution – they say there’s a reason the Lord gave us two ears and one mouth. If you are talking you are not listening. Monitor buyer meetings with particular focus on the amount of time your rep talks in relation to the buyer. A good rep will have no more than 30% of the conversation time
· Echo – when you learn customer pain, echo back what you heard. This does two things; first it tells the buyer you are not like the 90% of other reps calling on him as you are listening. Secondly, it will help clarify your understanding if the buyer corrects your echo of what you heard.
Besides, market leaders are focused on serving their market. They do not focus on what the competition is doing as much as solving customer problems. After all, if you focus on beating your competitor, you are limiting your success based on how good your competitor is. Companies who obsessively focus on competitors assume their competitors are smarter than they are. What if your competitor is also launching products that no one is buying? Following competitors often results in a “follow the leader death spiral” that becomes very difficult to pull out of.
Understand your buyers, their needs, and how they buy and you will quickly outpace your competition.
Let your competition spend time studying and criticizing you instead of listening to your buyers and understanding their needs.
Let your competitor salespeople keep using : “Our Competition Sucks Selling”, while your team listens and solves customer problems…..while breaking sales and profit records for your team.