Are You Tracking Competitors as Part of Your Sales Process?

BY Kathy Crosett
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If you’ve just been handed a list of leads for the year, you probably can’t wait to get out there and start pitching your service. Surely, one of these prospects will sign a deal with you, maybe even by the end of the week. Before you rush to get in front of a prospect, consider the advice of Richard Ruff, co-​founder of Sales Horizon, who writes for SalesTrainingConnection.

When you start working with a new prospect, you’re at the start of your sales cycle. Maybe you’ve got a system all worked out – one that includes telling the client about all the great features your service has and how it can save him money. Your plan might also call for an in-​person demo and a quick move to close the deal. If that’s your strategy, how has it been working for you? Likely, not very well.

Ruff emphasizes that B2B clients are not generic. They aren’t going to fit into your standard cycle. It’s helpful to develop a process for your sales cycle, but you should be prepared to change course regularly. If you want to be a top performer and close deals, take the time to get to know your prospect.  Besides learning about the usual details such as who the contact person is, what features a prospect is looking for in a product, and what their budget is, dig deeper to learn how the current business climate and competitors are likely to affect you.

The Buying Process

A new prospect who comes your way isn’t likely going to be just starting his research on what to buy. In fact, this prospect might be dangerously close to signing with the competition. In these cases, don’t start your relationship by explaining what you think he might need. Ask him why he’s leaning toward going with a competitor. Then, point out how your product can help him solve his specifically-​stated needs and increase his sales.

The Competitive Environment

While you’re focusing on the prospect, don’t forget to keep track of key developments in the industry. If a key competitor is about to launch a game-​changing product, be prepared to speak about the strengths of what you’re offering. The ever-​changing business climate also means that you’ll need to constantly update sales material in your presentations.

Decision Criteria

Your prospects will evaluate you not just on the strengths of your products, but also on the features your competitors are pitching. These days, decision making is usually a team effort. Some of these folks will favor your product, while others will favor what the competition has. To increase your chances of closing the deal, track the opinions and behaviors of key decision makers in meetings. If you’re certain your product can satisfy all of the prospect’s requirements, don’t back down. Stay positive and show the naysayers through demonstrations and references, how your solution can help them win.

The bottom line is there’s no substitute for going the extra distance to satisfy prospects. Your determination will put you in the top performers category.