Articles Tagged ‘Competing with Corporate’

Slay Your Competition: Be a Product of Your Product

Friday, May 6th, 2011

In your local market you’re the top dog. Your competition keeps you under the microscope, does what you do right after you do it, and wonders why they can’t compete with you. It’s a good place for your competition to be—in your rearview mirror. On a larger national scale the same is not the case, and some of the larger competitors may even be close to your own backyard. On this scale you’re a small fish in a big pond, fighting hard for your market share. It’s the David vs. Goliath story for every piece of business you go after. It’s tough. You know your company is good and your product or service is top notch but, you just can’t compete with the huge companies. This is where most businesses stop. They can’t make the move to the next level. But you’re so close, so don’t stop now! There are three basic concepts that will get you where you want to be.

You should know that some companies will only work with the big companies. In my previous life I was in competition with Cisco. The running joke among the salespeople for my company was that even if the prospect didn’t know what they were buying or if it would even fix their problem, as long as it was a Cisco product the prospect would not get fired buying it. Some companies have it ingrained in their minds that only big companies will be able to accommodate them. It is your job as a salesperson to ask the right questions to uncover this quickly and move on before you waste your time and resources.

The first concept that you, your business, and your salespeople need to ooze is being a product of your product. Being a product of your product means you need to eat, sleep, and drink your product or service. For example: if you are in the commercial HVAC business your office had better have perfect temperatures and efficient running equipment; if you are in the Landscaping business your own lawn and office areas should have attractive curb appeal. The business owner typically understands this but it can be lost in the sales and the customer service part of the businesses. Every part of your team must have the same passion and drive for your company that you have. Your product truly helps people, and if your salespeople don’t help prospects discover this or convey that message as strongly as you, sales may be lost.

The second concept that must be employed to tackle industry giants is to fully understand what your competition can’t and won’t do. Ask yourself these questions, and then find out if these differences between your company and your competition are important to your prospects. Don’t assume the prospect will appreciate the differences. You must ask otherwise you may appear ignorant or arrogant. Are you selling on quality, service, and price? Guess what. They are, too. If you go down the path of informing prospects you have great service, quality, and price you will walk yourself into the commodity box since your competition is saying the same thing. The only difference may be that they have the economies of scale and actually have a better price, and now you are losing opportunities over a few dollars.

The third and final step is to become a truth seeker. As a salesperson it is important to understand that some of the questions that prospects ask us are not the real question. For example, if a prospect asks, “how many people do you have in your office?” the underlying question may be “are you credible enough and large enough to do the job?” Be cautious of questions that can put your company in a box and make it easy for a prospect to disqualify you. You MUST discover the truth in a nurturing way so you can answer the question honestly and diffuse any potential bombs that may be a problem before investing more time, effort, and resources.

Every day there are opportunities that smaller companies should be winning but are not. If you are not a product of your product, you don’t truly understand what separates you from your competition. And, by not becoming a truth seeker you will find yourself finishing second,which is the most expensive place to finish. Keep in mind the above three concepts, and you will find yourself winning the additional business that allows you to grow your company. Keep in mind, it isn’t the big that eat the small it is the fast that eat the slow. How fast is your company?

Aaron Prickel
Lushin & Associates, Inc.

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