Competing Against Your Competition – How to Win the Sale


At what point in the sales process should I find out which competitors my prospects are looking at / comparing us to?

SalesBuzz Answer:

My answer is going to raise some eyebrows, but here it goes anyway…

Most of us have been taught to ask our prospects “Who else are you looking at / comparing us to?” during the discovery (qualifying) phase of the sales process. I would advise against that in most cases.
I recommend you uncover which competitors your prospects were looking atAFTER the sales is either WON or LOST.

Whoa! That’s CRAZY! Or is it?

Here are the two MAJOR PROBLEMS I have with trying to uncover which competitors my prospects are looking at / comparing me to BEFORE they’ve made a decision:
  1. Enquiring about “who else” they are considering puts my prospects on the defense.
  2. They tend to defend their reasons for considering other vendors, thus selling themselves as to why the “other guy” may be a better fit.
So here’s what I like to do instead:
I like to find out what my prospects ideal solution / needs look like. I care lessabout who else they are considering and focus more on what they are after and how my solution fits their needs / wants and desires.
So after understanding the problem they want to solve, I like to identify what their ideal solution looks like to them. You can do that simply by asking a simple question such as:
“Mr. Prospect, what are the top three features our software solution has to have for you?” or;
“Mr. Prospect, other than price, what’s most important to you when selecting a vendor/company/solution to help you solve _______?”
Asking questions like this opens your prospects up where asking “who else are you looking at / considering?” puts them on the defense.
If I’ve done my job right and have asked the right questions in order to truly understand their problem and how they want it solved, I can focus my solution to their needs and won’t have to worry about what my competitors are up to.

But What if They Say They Want to “Shop Around?”

I recently had a prospect send me an email that said:
“I have one other proposal to review. Will let you know one way or the other this week.”
This was my reply:
“(PROSPECTS NAME), I’m a little surprised to hear you say you would like to still look at other options. There isn’t another sales person out there with better content for selling by phone and our delivery system is extremely successful, not to mention affordable. So the question is, what is it that you are looking for that we are missing?”
Notice I didn’t put the focus on my competition but rather on what he was after, how our solution matches up with what his needs are (GREAT CONTENT / DELIVERABILITY / AFFORDABLE) and asked what we are missing, rather than ask what do the others have that we don’t?!
PS… This was the follow-up email I got back from the prospect:
“Michael: I always do my diligence. Finished today and decided to go with your 8-week inside sales improvement program per our discussion. Please send me what I need to move forward.”

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

If you currently use any form of questioning to uncover which competitors your prospects are considering, and it’s working for you, great. Don’t change.
But if you find that you seem to keep losing deals to your competition, try focusing more on asking the right sales questions in order to uncover what’s important to your prospect, and less on who else they are comparing you to.
PSS… Once you have WON the sale, feel free to ask who else they were considering and WHY they chose you over them. Do the same if you’ve lost the sale so you can learn to be better with the next prospect.
Michael Pedone – SalesBuzz.com‘s CSS: Chief Sales Scientist
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