My Competitor Has a Better Product
"At the moment, my competitor's have
a far better product/deal, due to circumstances out of my
control. However, customers go to the competitor and then
come to me to compare. How do I go about convincing the
customer that our service/product is better even though
on paper it isn't?"
I believe that this is a common experience for many of us
in sales. Customers use us for free for all kinds of freebies - information,
demos, test drive's, consulting, etc. Sure, it is good to give away something
free to expose people to your offering (the EGOPOWER newsletter is an example
This has gone way too far however, and it's our fault in the
sales profession. We have been bludgeoned into thinking that we must do whatever
it is that the customer asks of us. That we should jump through hoops like
trick dogs, if that gets us just a little bit closer to *possibly* getting
Freebies should be used as a marketing tool. The purpose of
freebies is to generate a lead. And that's where the free giveaways should
end. Once you have the lead, and are able to engage the customer in live conversation,
the marketing ends and the selling begins.
Successful selling is an exchange of value for value. It has
always been this way since people traded grains and cloth for chickens and
pigs. Today as sales professionals we are "representing" a company and its
products. This is why we are called "sales representatives". We act as the
agent, representing our company in the trade, representing our company in
the exchange of value for value.
As sales reps, we offer significant value to our prospective
customers. Yes our products have value, but I am not talking about that. The
value that we offer is our knowledge and our time. We know a lot about our
products, about our industry, about future trends in our marketplace, about
our competition, and many other things.
We sell our products every day. Our customers (most of them
at least) do not buy these products every day. So our knowledge has value.
If you don't believe this to be true, then you either need to think about
this a little more, or you work in an industry that is about to get disintermediated
So what should you do?
Respect your value as a salesperson and his teachching career advice
Get commitments from your prospects.
Get a commitment - Qualify them first for pains/wants, budget,
and decision capability, Then before presenting details about your product.
Get a commitment to make a definitive decision upon completion of your presentation
or the proof step of your sales cycle. For this to work, you must have asked
really good questions to elicit the important pains/wants that are driving
the sale. You must know that they have the money to buy it. And you must be
presenting to the decision-maker.
You only have so much time in a day, so use it well. If you
chase every deal that comes your way, you are losing real sales that you could
have gone out and looked for.
Break any of these rules, and you are simply rolling the dice.
(Yeah I know, this works for some people - but you'll never make it really
big in sales winging it this way).
Notice that what I outlined above is the reverse order of
the way many salespeople have learned to sell. The key thing that I am telling
you to do here, is to present AFTER you have qualified the prospect and AFTER
you have a commitment to make a decision.
If you have a long sales cycles involving multiple levels
of decision-making, you can use this same approach. Instead of getting a commitment
for a decision up-front, you can get a commitment to be taken to the appropriate
next step. That could be a meeting with a higher-level decision-maker, or
it could be earning the right to give a presentation to a more influential
audience. I call this "chaining commitments".
This is the best solution. By getting commitments, you will
stop wasting time with the people who aren't serious about you. By asking
good questions up-front (a topic for another newsletter), you may uncover
something that your competitor missed, giving you a chance to change the rules
of the sale set early on by your competitor's getting there first.
If your product isn't better, I don't believe that you can
persuade or convince someone that it is. Most people aren't stupid. They will
figure out eventually that you are trying to pull one over on them, if they
don't figure that out while you are actually trying to do it to them.
Lastly, even with the most competitive products, the number
two product usually has some advantages over the number one product. Determine
these advantages, and focus your selling efforts on the prospects who want
such benefits. Create questions designed to uncover the pains/wants that would
cause someone to want such benefits. Follow the process above of questions
and commitments first, presentations last, and you'll find yourself making
money even when you aren't selling for the number one company.