Hello and thanks for visiting!
Over the past few years I have worked with and coached a lot of very successful salesmen and a lot of unsuccessful salesmen.
There are a lot of things that play a part in the difference but one that really stands out is their ability to discuss the competition with customers.
Now, you might ask;
“How can that really matter?” Or “It is easy, you just tell the customer what is wrong with them and what is right with you!”
Let me give you an example that shows that it isn’t always this easy.
This story was told to me by one of my customers:
“I was called by a salesman using the same basic pitch as the product I am using today. So after he had given me his pitch I asked him, why should I pick your service over the one I use today?
He answered me shortly with;
- Well, I work for a serious company with a quality product. The product you are using today is no good at all!
- That is interesting, I have found it fulfills my needs perfectly! I answered.
- Ha! That company couldn’t do anything right…and so on and so forth.
After a while I got pretty tired of this salesman telling me that the decisions I had made were stupid and hung up.”
This is a pretty classic response from many salesmen when confronted with a customer using another product (which is about 99% of the time).
How would you react if someone called you up and told you that all the decisions you made were stupid? Especially if they didn’t have anything positive to say about their own product, only bad about the competitors?
The hard part, and the part most people miss, is that it takes real knowledge about an industry to compare and bad talk your competitors.
It takes time to learn enough about your own product and that of your competitors for you to use it, time you often don’t get if you are new to a company as you are expected to produce at once.
One technique some of my salesmen use is to complement the customer.
Here comes an example:
“- I am already using this and I am very happy with it! The customer says.
- That is great. I am glad you have found something that you feel works. I must say though that by using our product you will really be able to benefit from x benefit. As the product you are using today does this, but isn’t as good at x. You are actually missing a lot of the effect you need.
If you instead look at the benefits you would gain by using our system overall you would find that it would both make you more effective and save you money.”
As you can see this approach is very different.
It starts by acknowledging the wisdom in the decision the customer has done and then by the knowledge the salesmen has about both her own product and the competitors product she can compare and prove that her product is the more effective one for this customer.
This balance between saying good and bad things about a competitor is important as well as saying bad and good things about your own product.
If you get to lop sided, just saying poor things about the competitor or just saying great things about your own product, you will alienate the customer. No one wants to be told they are stupid and no one wants to hear about how great your product is. They want to know “What is in it for me?” So tell them!
I also want to share a fun technique I like to use myself.
It is important that you have your bases covered to do it though, either through a very thorough knowledge of your competitor or that the below example actually has happened. In my case it was both!
“- Hello X! How are you? I start.
- I am fine. Last time we talked we discussed this problem. It is now solved. But we have had a new event come up and I wanted to ask you about another company that called me with a way to fix the product.
…. (He told me the problem was a recruitment they were doing in a section he didn’t know we worked with) …
- Ah yes, actually we work with that type of recruitment as well. By the way, which competitor contacted you? I answered.
- It was Y. My customer answered.
- Haha, can I be honest with you? One of my old colleagues actually started that company and they have since then tried to hire me!
What a coincidence. Who did you speak to? Was it d, k or j? I asked.
- It was j. He answered stunned.
- Well that is fun, he is a good guy. I am sure that company will be really good one day. They have some interesting ideas and work hard. Though they are very new on the market now and haven’t had time to build their product. That is why I said no to working for them. The company I work for has been around a lot longer and has a lot more users, giving my customers a better response and making my job that much easier! I said with a wind.”
This conversation went on to prove that my customer should continue using my service for at least another year before considering my competitor.
As you can see, this is a pretty unique situation (which is why I have taken out all names, don’t want a lot of people mad at me) but can really set you aside from the competition.
The two things I hope you take with you from this article is the essence of talking about your competitors.
- Don’t tell your customers that what they have done is stupid (it will completely put them off talking to you).
- Don’t just tell them about how great your product is or how bad the competitors is. Mix it up, tell them about both the good and the bad and show them that the value your product brings to the table is larger than your competitors, even if you both do bring value.
Thank you and good luck!