An inherent reality in doing business in any marketplace is that vendors compete against each other and the strong will usually win over the weak. The product offering better value will win over the one of lower value, and the incumbent will almost always have a strategic advantage over the newcomer … unless the incumbent is not paying attention. This is especially true in the high technology markets. These industries are characterized by the continuing advent of new technology, the rapid advancement of knowledge-based systems, and the astounding acceleration of increasingly enhanced price/performance offerings to customers. With that kind of turnover and technological jumble, it is easy to see how competitive opportunities present themselves every single day. Simply find some competitive account strongholds, where the incumbent competitor has grown complacent and lazy. Simple isn’t it?
So how do salespeople adapt and respond to this environment and its attendant challenges? Unfortunately, all too often, salespeople shy away from initiating a contest with the competition. Oh, the average sales representative will respond to competitive requests for pricing and proposal submissions as defined by the job description. By and large, however, they find refuge in selling primarily to the accounts they have already sold to. They may rely on maximizing their customer’s add-on and upgrade potential, which can be very lucrative, but also results in very real growth limitations unless you include those competitive customers who don’t know you yet.
Sometimes, the salesperson finds himself in the right place at the right time with a new opportunity, a new set of players, a clean slate and a level playing field. This is obviously an opportune time to sell something. Not surprisingly, there may be some motivated competitors who think so as well. The salesperson winds up in a clash-of-the-titans that is worthy of an epic screenplay. The good news is that sometimes you win. Management showers praise, glory and money on such winners and holds them up as a model to others who are struggling. Often, these salespeople are promoted to the role of managers themselves.
What all too often is missed is that it is also possible to identify and close a considerable amount of new business at the expense of the competition with a great deal less fanfare, and less effort than one might suspect. Not only that, it often occurs very quietly, and usually without the competition knowing about it. There is little need for ceremony or complex negotiations. These are merely matter-of-fact, business as usual transactions that can make for very quick and profitable sales. The average on-lookers will miss the deft manipulations involved since they are too busy watching the clash-of-the-titans. The average on-looker will also miss the increased earnings and business attainment that results from such competitive wins.
The key is to identify the opportunities. As referenced earlier, the secret to finding such opportunities in our industry is to take full advantage of the rapid technological turnover that occurs every year. In almost every organization, there are pockets of departmental operations that have performed the same way for many years. They may have been the state of the art when they were first established, or they may have been outdated even then. It really doesn’t matter. What is important is the fact that right now that department could be taking full advantage of technological enhancements that have been introduced since the introduction of the competitive systems currently in place, if only someone took the time to tell them about it. Go tell them! Give them the option to use YOUR STUFF! Before you do, however, you want to make sure that you can clearly explain the value of the potential increase in performance capabilities that you can deliver. It is one of the easiest ways for a salesperson to make new inroads into a competitive account and, in time, to become the preferred partner.
As is always the case with a good sale, the new customer becomes delighted with the new purchase and just as happy to have their previous provider vanquished. The sales representative not only enhances his company’s stature as the preferred partner, but the customer ascends from being satisfied to becoming a raving fan.
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