How to Discuss Competitors When Selling Against the Competition

BY Jessica Helinski
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Talking about competitors with prospective customers is tricky situation for a sales rep to be in. You need to tread carefully so that you do not seem unprofessional. But you do not want to sing the competition's praises either. Either way, one thing is for certain: You are selling against the competition. “Whether it’s the price you are charging or their needs to get different quotes, or many other reasons, it can be quite deflating when the competition is brought up in the sales meeting,” writes Sean McPheat, managing director at MTD Sales Training.

McPheat goes on to share some tips on how sales reps can deal with different times a competitor may come up in sales conversation. Here's what you should be doing in each of the following situations:

What to Say When Selling Against the Competition


Often, a prospective customer will mention your competitors while discussing pricing. You need to be prepared to talk about the competition without resorting to downgrading them or what they're selling. If the competition does happen to have lower prices than you, focus the conversation on the value that you provide. Be specific when discussing what value your product or service has to offer to the prospect for added impact. “Your research should tell you what you do better than the competitor, so focus on what those better things are,” McPheat writes. “If the customer simply wants cheap, then maybe you need to adjust your spec or even decide if this is the right customer for you.” So, this conversation can also serve as a way to qualify the lead in addition to promoting your product's value.

Showcase YOUR ideas and expertise

As McPheat points out, “yes, they may have brought up the competitor, but who’s in front of them at this moment? Who has your rapt attention in this meeting? Who can share their expertise in the prospect’s situation right now?” YOU are the one in the spotlight at this moment. So, use this opportunity when selling against the competition. You should let the prospective customer know more about yourself and what you have to offer them. Discuss how you can specifically help their business both now and in the future. Also, be sure to cite particular challenges the prospect is facing. You can also bring up areas of concern they have mentioned to you before in the sales conversation.

These sales conversation suggestions can help you avoid panicking when selling against the competition. Use a situation like this one as an opportunity to show your professionalism (by not bashing the competition) and why you are clearly a better choice for the prospect to do business with. “If you’re able to overcome the main reasons for using the competition, you create a firm foundation for their business to be using your solutions rather than someone else’s,” says McPheat.