Managing the Competition

When playing defense in basketball, one of the old adages is “you have to keep your eyes on the ball.” For effective sales strategy execution, the ball is your customer. Unfortunately, many organizations take their eye off the ball and instead focus on reacting to the competition. For a sales strategy to be effective, it is critical to stay focused on the customer; their needs, challenges and concerns. The best salespeople focus on the customer and manage the competition.

The top performing salespeople are able to answer these four questions about the competition while simultaneously focusing on their customers:

Capacity: What are your competition’s major capabilities and limitations?
Assessment: What is your customer’s perception of the competitor compared to your product/solution?
Performance: What is your competitor doing very well and poorly, and why?
Strategy: What is the competitor’s strategy for the same customer?

Additionally, keep in mind these three best practices for managing the competition to help execute a more effective sales strategy for capturing major accounts:

Dealing with passive competition: One of the biggest roadblocks comes directly from your customer wanting to stick to their status quo and change nothing. A strategy should be kept in place to overcome to no-decision inertia. This leads us to our next best practice.
Broadening the definition of competition: Oftentimes the competition is not for a similar solution, but rather a competition for the share of the wallet. Your competitor may be selling an entirely different solution that is targeting the same budget that you are.
Differentiating on Added Value: One of the reasons why your competitor is a competitor is because they are offering a similar solution for the same problem you address. So it is critical to differentiate your solution by outlining the value of all the other services you provide for the customer.

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