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Competitive Selling: Get a Leg Up! [Week 3 of 6]

Posted by on January 25, 2012

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Competitive SellingLast week
, we talked about the important place Strategic Account Development holds in the world of sales execution. But once you’ve got your sales strategies in place and things are flowing smoothly, you may find yourself faced with a further challenge: convincing prospective clients to purchase from you instead of your competitor. Will you be able to prove that your product or service is superior? Is price the most important factor? Or is there something else you should be focusing on?

Selling is often described as a numbers game. Approach the right number of prospects and you will convert a certain proportion to clients and you will meet your sales goals. This is true to a certain extent, but what you really need is are skills and tools that will help you identify the best customers, convert them, and protect them against your competitors’ sales efforts.

Competitive targeting and selling is composed of three distinct processes:

  1. Profiling prospects
  2. Converting prospects to clients
  3. Evaluating your sales methodology

Profile Prospective Clients

In this stage of the process, you must examine business trends in your industry, identify potential clients, and determine their needs. Some of this profiling is done in the office but much of it is performed during the actual meeting with your prospective client.

When applied to the sales environment, the “Iceberg Theory” tells us that clients and prospects aren’t always 100% truthfulor may inadvertently leave out vital information that could significantly affect the decision-making process. To avoid this pitfall, you must ask probing questions to uncover their true needs. Although your prospect may seem to know exactly what those needs are, asking targeted questions can reveal a much clearer picture. We advocate pre-call planning: creating a customized list of questions for each prospect and client and having them on hand for every sales call.

In the end, you must understand your client’s business so that on subsequent sales calls, you can proceed immediately to the second stage of competitive selling.

Prospect Conversion Process

There are two important factors that influence a decision to choose one vendor over another. The first is perceived value. Selling value rather than just products and features differentiates you from your competition. Your client doesn’t just need a supplier of products or services. They need a real partner who can supply greater value by anticipating needs and supplying innovative solutions to meet those needs. Doing this will set your company apart from the competition.Secondly, as you scale the “strategic relationship ladder” with your client, you become an ever-more-valuable resource and are much harder for the competition to unseat. When you reach this stage, you are in the enviable position of not having to re-sell the product or service every single time. Instead, you are a trusted consultant who can “advance the sale” by offering better solutions to fit your client’s needs.


The final step is to use the “SMART” system we mentioned last week to evaluate and critique not only your selling skills, but also how effectively you have met your clients’ needs. Remember: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound goals are a must for everyone on the sales team. From this deeper level of understanding, you’ll watch your sales grow beyond anything you’ve achieved before.

In our customized Competitive Targeting and Selling workshop, we thoroughly explore these concepts, practice the skills until they are second nature, and send participants away with the tools to meet and exceed all their sales goals. At CGWA, our 5 targeted Sales Execution Workshops have each been developed, tested, and refined in the field—in response to real issues faced by even the most outstanding sales teams. Next week, we’ll talk about the third of these workshops: Sales Negotiation Skills. Be sure to come back then!

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