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Competing in Sales

How do you view the nature of competing in sales, and what does it take to win against the competition on a consistent basis? - by Gary A Boye
I believe establishing credibility in discovering business problems is everything in the new selling game. The successful sales person will know their prospect's business- what they do, their financials if they exist, their competitors, press releases and so on. He/she will understand the culture of how the orgainization makes decisions, and where the holes are in the operation. He/she will earn the right to ask specific, pointed questions their competition will likely not ask. He/she will understand the acumen required, and the strategic scope of the DM they are talking to, so that questions about financial direction are for the CFO, not the COO. That person will understand that value is in the eye of the customer (and is therefore found), not in what you pitch in your cold call or first five minutes with the customer. He/she will continue to sharpen their skills. - by David Mack
I believe establishing credibility in discovering business problems is everything in the new selling game.
Just to clarify that statement, do you mean credibility should be established so that the prospective customer believes your "discovery" of a business problem? For instance, suppose an actual business problem exists, and you--along with--a competitor--discovered that problem. How would credibility offset the balance? Or--better yet, how would credibility be effected by the fact that you and your competitor both perceived the same problem? - by Gary A Boye
There are a couple of items you mentioned, Gary, that requires an answer.

First, I meant to state that credibility is established by focusing on problem discovery early in the game. I am sure we are clear that the world is full of sales reps who, in the first five minutes of customer contact, spew how great their own company is, how great their product line is, the problems the product will solve, etc. Most focus in the selling cycle I see is on presentation and closing, and that is done way too early in the cycle, B2B, that is.

Second, we may discover a problem, but when is a problem a bona fide problem? Because we can get excited that we found something, drill in on it, and find out later after our focus on it, that it was not a problem that prevented the customer from meeting the business plan. So, we may both have found a problem, but perhaps different problems.

In this case, I will assume that, yes, the competitor and I have discovered the same problem(s), and yes, they are valid. Yes, there is visibility at the C-Level, and an urgency to solve it. At some point of the process, I hope to know more about the culture, and how they make decisions. Questions like, "I know you have an affinity to XYZ Company...what do you like about them?" "What is your dislike of us?" "If product capabilities are the same, what criteria would you and key staff impart to choose?" This is not a complete answer, but it hits the high points. - by David Mack
Thank you for clarifying, David. - by Gary A Boye
Question: What does it take to win against the competition on a consistent basis?

My answer: Some blend of the following:

1. A better product as perceived by the market.

2. A better price.

3. A better salesperson.

Since most sales professionals can't control #1 and #2, I suggest we focus on #3!

That's what I love about being a sales trainer. That's what I love about SalesPractice.

Skip - by Skip Anderson
This is an awesome question. To touch on Skip's response, I think that winning consistently is an organizational effort. You could be the best salesperson in the world, but if your company has problems delivering the product, or is delivering product with poor quality, then the meaning of your skill becomes diminished significantly. So winning consistently definitely is a team effort. The macro environment also plays a part - for instance, if your offering becomes obsolete because of a new offering on the market then winning consistently is going to be extremely difficult.

I've been thinking a lot about the roles that flexibility, and awareness of context, play in consistent winning. No one list of success will work on every sale. Not every success principle will need to be used on every sale. Customers are different; their problems different; the solutions different. Sure there are similarities, and we can use those to simplify our understanding of our selling domain. However, having that awareness of which process to follow, where in the process to start, how to deal with the objections (do you always deal with the same objection the same way?), and how to get commitments and ultimately the sale. Context is king! - by goodselling
I've been thinking a lot about the roles that flexibility, and awareness of context, play in consistent winning. No one list of success will work on every sale. Not every success principle will need to be used on every sale. Customers are different; their problems different; the solutions different.
Goodselling, in regard to this topic, are you thinking that it is more important to focus on how people are different than to be aware of patterns of sameness? Also, could you clarify "success principle" with regard to "using" one? - by Gary A Boye
You know what would be nice here, is a topic come to conclusion. We start down a subject, get diverted within a topic and then they sorta languish without any kind of summary of what we have learned.

Being Prepared, Being Persistent, Being Creative and Paying Attention. Keep your eyes open as to what's around you, both competitively and from your clients.

Much Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
You know what would be nice here, is a topic come to conclusion. We start down a subject, get diverted within a topic and then they sorta languish without any kind of summary of what we have learned.

Being Prepared, Being Persistent, Being Creative and Paying Attention. Keep your eyes open as to what's around you, both competitively and from your clients.

Much Aloha... :cool:
That would assume there's only one conclusion ;sm - by goodselling
You know what would be nice here, is a topic come to conclusion. We start down a subject, get diverted within a topic and then they sorta languish without any kind of summary of what we have learned.

Being Prepared, Being Persistent, Being Creative and Paying Attention. Keep your eyes open as to what's around you, both competitively and from your clients.
Who is to say what "we have learned?" It would make sense to summarize what we have explored perhaps. My posts have a single objective to open up and explore topics. They are intended for inquiry. What we can learn is what others think, often different from what we think. That doesn't mean we have to conform to anybody's thinking any more than align with their level of success (or perceived level of success.) There ARE clues, of course. When you examine how others in sales think, make no mistake about it--you are examining the competition-- the good, the bad, and the indifferent. - by Gary A Boye
Who is to say what "we have learned?" It would make sense to summarize what we have explored perhaps. My posts have a single objective to open up and explore topics. They are intended for inquiry. What we can learn is what others think, often different from what we think. That doesn't mean we have to conform to anybody's thinking any more than align with their level of success (or perceived level of success.) There ARE clues, of course. When you examine how others in sales think, make no mistake about it--you are examining the competition-- the good, the bad, and the indifferent.
I agree that to summarize what we have explored would be helpful.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
That would assume there's only one conclusion ;sm
Your right! What I was thinking is that a summary of items/topics/ideas covered would for me, be helpful.

Much Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
Your right! What I was thinking is that a summary of items/topics/ideas covered would for me, be helpful.

Much Aloha... :cool:
Thus far there have only been three participants who addressed the topic's questions. Is a summary really necessary at this point? - by Gary A Boye
What have we learned... what have we touched upon? We have either, asnswered the questions, provided the information necessary ro the lurkers, or are the only three here.

Aloha.. :cool: - by rattus58
What have we learned... what have we touched upon? We have either, asnswered the questions, provided the information necessary ro the lurkers, or are the only three here.

Aloha.. :cool:
Those are good questions.

We have learned the views of three members on the topic. In my opinion, it isn't necessarily important to care about the views of the three members. But there is immense value in observing how others in sales respond to such questions. We can study and learn about sales, and we can also learn about people who sell. Make no mistake about it--knowing the thoughts of others who sell helps us understand more about those we sell against--good, bad, and indifferent. - by Gary A Boye
Those are good questions.

We have learned the views of three members on the topic. In my opinion, it isn't necessarily important to care about the views of the three members. But there is immense value in observing how others in sales respond to such questions. We can study and learn about sales, and we can also learn about people who sell. Make no mistake about it--knowing the thoughts of others who sell helps us understand more about those we sell against--good, bad, and indifferent.
No question. But what if I'm wrong? ;bg

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
No question. But what if I'm wrong? ;bg
It is a significant step towards growth when combined with admission of the fact. - by Gary A Boye
Gary I am a bit different with who and what I consider my competition. I understand those who are in my profession are the competition however I do not look at them as my competition. I compete against myself. I expect to gain the ownership exchange with each client or clients and that makes the competing companies irrelevant.

I win the ownership exchange or I lose the exchange by what I have not done or said. The competition did not take the sale from me I gave it away either on purpose or by mistake. Not every client is mine but my mindset is each client is mine to win or lose. It depends on how much time and effort I am willing to spend in order to close the clients that I may lose. With the b2c climate I am involved I have been fortunate to be able to enjoy the ownership exchange 67 out of 70 clients that I visit on a monthly basis.

I attribute this to listening and hearing the client describe the issues, concerns and answer every question that is asked. I am a firm believer in relationship selling and building rapport. I discover what is important to each client and I spend the proper time that is required. This is what separates me from all others.

My true competition is my own head and where it is at with each client.

This is what keeps me ahead of the other companies. - by rich34232
This is what separates me from all others.
That is quite a statement for one person to make on a forum that, every week, attracts thousands of professionals who sell. I speak on behalf of those among us who are truly humbled, rich34232. - by Gary A Boye
That is quite a statement for one person to make on a forum that, every week, attracts thousands of professionals who sell. I speak on behalf of those among us who are truly humbled, rich34232.
Hey Gary.... Belief is the Beginning, the travel and the FUTURE of any successful.. or TRULY successful person.

If you've read think and grow rich, which everyone should, along with Carnegie's, who inspired Think and Grow Ricn, How to Win Friends and Influence People, You know that everyone pretty much from Edison to Gates desired opportunity.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
If you've read think and grow rich, which everyone should, along with Carnegie's, who inspired Think and Grow Ricn, How to Win Friends and Influence People, You know that everyone pretty much from Edison to Gates desired opportunity.

Aloha... :cool:
I'll take the time to correct at least part of your post.

Andrew Carnegie inspired the author of Think and Grow Rich--not Dale Carnegie who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. They were not related.

I have read both, was an instructor in the Dale Carnegie Course, and have read the entire collection of Hill's work including the unabridged originals.

The conclusion I have drawn, which differs from yours and the other member's, is best stated in some upcoming material which will be available to visitors to SalesPractice and will cover the topic in considerable depth. It says: You can't be better than the next guy by assuming you're better than the next guy.

With regard to the other members statement, I saw no evidence in his post that separates him from any number of successful people I know in several trades. There is one exception to what I just said however. Most of the top producers I've known in sales are very much aware of the habits and traits and strategies of their competition and do not think of them as "irrelevant."

I don't want to debate these things. This is a thread with the intent of inquiry on the topic of competition in sales. I would welcome posts from those who view the topic as relevant. - by Gary A Boye
I'll take the time to correct at least part of your post.

Andrew Carnegie inspired the author of Think and Grow Rich--not Dale Carnegie who wrote How to Win Friends and Influence People. They were not related.

I have read both, was an instructor in the Dale Carnegie Course, and have read the entire collection of Hill's work including the unabridged originals.

The conclusion I have drawn, which differs from yours and the other member's, is best stated in some upcoming material which will be available to visitors to SalesPractice and will cover the topic in considerable depth. It says: You can't be better than the next guy by assuming you're better than the next guy.

With regard to the other members statement, I saw no evidence in his post that separates him from any number of successful people I know in several trades. There is one exception to what I just said however. Most of the top producers I've known in sales are very much aware of the habits and traits and strategies of their competition and do not think of them as "irrelevant."

I don't want to debate these things. This is a thread with the intent of inquiry on the topic of competition in sales. I would welcome posts from those who view the topic as relevant.
You're right about andrew vs dale.... my mistake... it's been years since I've read either of them books... however... competition in sales... comes down to the salesman... period.

Sure you can say product, delivery, systems, etc etc etc but these are features and benefits inherent to the product, the salesmen/woman. I sell guns... one of them, now out of production, IS THE BEST there is for what it does and hasn't yet been equalled. In THAT regard, I have no competition, but we have gone out of busieness.... *sniffles*... why? Marketing, salesmanship, competition from overseas (price) and a host of other factors (a lawsuit, although frivolous cost our bankroll)... competition beat us out. Pure and Simple but the mark of comepetion and competitors as you say, bears on the competition.

I'm not sure Gary that any accomplished salesperson DOESN't KNOW HIS COMPETITION. Part of any proper sales interview is KNOWING how your potential client is utilizing your competitors product you're trying to replace, or if not using a competitors product, how is he getting the job done for which you auditioning without you or the competion?

This is all part of being prepared or getting prepared. Knowing your competition is part of being able to present the right picture for your client clearly, which draws clear constrasts to your product or service and that of your competion or in contrast to methods employed currently to accomplish the area's we wish to integrate with our clients.

As to your comment of upcoming topic.. "You can't be better than the next guy by assuming you're better than the next guy." that should be pretty short and sweet anyways... and there aint gonna much depth I don't think... why? Because it on its face is a true statement. What is there to debate, discuss, or evaluate. That doesn't in any sense impune the belief that one has in himself to make himself the best there is, on the other hand. The belief system makes you aspire. That too is part of the competitors edge, for if you don't think you can beat him, you never will. You'll never get up early to prepare. You won't get up anxious to start. You won't get up with your eyes wide open.

I don't know whether Rick is the best or not, nor do I care, but when you say that you're the best there is, or someone else makes that comment, they are reflecting their UNIVERSE... not the THE universe.

The world is too big to worry about what is going on in china unless what is going on in China is affecting me here on my lily pad. I work in an environment that is countrywide. Most don't have such universal competition and at any one time we have probably 4-5 QUALITY competing companies that we are having to deal with.... however we win our share.

I have to constantly remind my staff that price doesn't make or isolate your competiton. It's the job they do... or we do. If price was it, there would be only one insurance company doing business, so to speak.

The job we do... how goes it? That in my OPINION is what makes the competion or beats it.

Aloha... :cool: - by rattus58
As to your comment of upcoming topic.. "You can't be better than the next guy by assuming you're better than the next guy." that should be pretty short and sweet anyways... and there aint gonna much depth I don't think... why? Because it on its face is a true statement. What is there to debate, discuss, or evaluate.
Excellent thoughts, Rattus. I took the liberty of editing your post above with bold red--those comments which are inordinately insightful on the subject of competing in sales.

As to the part which I put in quotes here---please reserve judgment as to the depth of the topic. Much of what passes for education in sales today reeks of a breach of the common sense instilled in the quote, "You can't be better than the next guy by assuming you're better than the next guy." - by Gary A Boye
To this discussion I would add that sales people are competing with more than just their competitors. ;) - by Jeff Blackwell
Hi Gary... :)

Thank you... as for judging the upcoming topic... I was being a little tongue in cheek there and actually look forward to it.

Much aloha... Tom :cool: - by rattus58
To this discussion I would add that sales people are competing with more than just their competitors. ;)
How VERY true.... I can think of dozens of examples... the economy itself provides a plethora of possibilities there, family does too.

And then there are those pesky marketing blitzes... chevy.. 60 day money back... 0%..... hmmmm leather seats or a new Computer System... just yesterday....the urgency to purchase a new software program lost out to an AR15, a Ruger Stainless Mini-14.... and 1000 rounds of ammunition.... thmbp2;

Here's hoping you enjoy a prosperous new years Jeff....

Much Aloha.. Tom :cool: - by rattus58
Gary I am speaking of those in my profession within the b2c of my particular field when I made the statement; that is what seperates me from all the rest. My statement does not include all sales professionals and all fields. I am not competing with you until you step into my field of expertise.I am not competiing with insurance agents etc.

The ideas I have expressed I believe that every sales professional should think in those terms that they are the best. Whether they are or not has little bearing if they have the belief that they are. If any sales professional has self doubt that he or she is the best for that client the battle is lost before he or she has started.

With all things a belief is not enough it requires action.

The question asks for opinions I stand by my opinion. - by rich34232
I did not say I did not know or understand other organizations that is in my field. I did not say I do not know what they do and how they do their job.Of course we need to know and understand.

I do not adapt to the strengths of other organizations I try to have them adapt to my strengths, standards and process.

In a round about way the other organizations help to drive me to do the preparation however the higher percentage of my drive is self motivation to do what I do for my clients. When I am face to face with my clients I am not concerned about the other organziatons I am concerned with what I do for the client and how I can express that in terms that the client understands and drives thier want to do business with me.

I do not discuss other organizations. When the client brings them into the picture I bypass those questions with what I can do for the client and bring it back the discussion to being about the client.

I will be the first to inform you that there are others that know more than I do in my particular field. Hence my skill level is practiced and improved upon on a daily basis. - by rich34232
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