What Should You Do When You or Your Company is Disliked in Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 11, 2016 @ 06:04 AM

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I know.  Everyone loves you. You are just so likable that it's inconceivable that you could be disliked.  As usual, I see things a bit differently and I'll prove that there is someone that not only dislikes you, but might even hate you.  For example, my company, Objective Management Group (OMG), is universally hated by an entire vertical!   I'll share that with you, but first I must ask you a question.  If you are in territory sales, is there a competitor salesperson gunning for you?  Have you taken business away from anyone?  Do they hate you?  Is there a competitor who is all smoke and mirrors, who can't deliver on what they promise, who still manages to win business at your expense?  Do you hate them?  Do you sell a product or service that can help a company do more with fewer employees?  Do those employees hate you?  It wasn't that long ago when Apple hated Microsoft and Microsoft hated Apple.  Allow me to provide a few examples and then I'll share how to deal with the hate.

One of OMG's products is our legendary, accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessment.  Everyone from the CEO down through sales leadership and HR love this tool, but internal recruiters hate it and recruiting firms hate us!  Internal recruiters hate us because they have to work harder to find sales candidates who will be recommended.  It's their job, so they deal with us.  After all, only 7% of all salespeople are elite, and just an additional 16% who qualify as strong.  That means that 77% of the candidates they find suck, usually aren't recommended, and our assessment exposes that.  

For recruiting firms, the hate is even worse.  Their profit depends on a company quickly falling in love with a candidate and when one of their clients wants to use OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, it is not only more difficult, but it takes much longer for them to find the right candidate. That eats into their profit and they absolutely hate that!  One way that recruiting firms deal with this is when they attempt to discredit our assessment.  As you can imagine, that kind of hate isn't much fun because it puts clients right in the middle of that battle.

Over the years, the creative people in our entrepreneurial and innovative economy have been responsible for developing products (think internet-related) and services (think outsourcing) that eliminate jobs.  The employees who are most vulnerable to having their jobs eliminated absolutely hate the companies and their salespeople who provide those services.

Speaking of entrepreneurs, one of the best sites is EvanCarmichael.com and last week, Evan hosted a video interview with me when we talked about assessments, selling, presenting and differentiating.  It was a fun and fast-paced interview and you can see it here.

So what can you do when you there are groups of people who hate you?  Introduce the issue yourself.  You'll need to wait until you have uncovered their compelling reason to buy and then you can ask a question like this one, "An ideal solution is going to eliminate some jobs, and while that will save the company money, how will you deal with the pushback that you're going to get?" or, "A solution that will solve the problem we are talking about will cause this group over here to be quite upset.  How will you deal with the protests you are going to get from them?"

Here are some additional resources.

This article on how to ask questions so that customers buy and you don't have to sell was named one of the top 10 sales blog posts of the month.

This article that I wrote for the SellingPower blog explains how to sidestep price issues so that you can sell value!

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, competition, Motivation, Apple, objective management group, selling power, microsoft

Top 3 Ways for Salespeople to Eliminate Competition

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 @ 21:10 PM

competitionIf your company is like most, you have lots of competition and some of them will do anything to get the business.  How would you like to eliminate your competition? I don't mean putting them out of business  (some of you wouldn't mind that at all) but I do mean getting them out of the way...

There are three ways to eliminate increasing competition for a declining number of opportunities:

 

  1. Stop Trolling for Projects and Opportunities.  Many companies call known customers and prospects and ask if they have "Anything going on".  This is what creates competition!  Rather than trolling for projects, your salespeople should be looking for problems that prospects haven't yet turned into projects and as a result, haven't invited anyone in to present and propose.  Warning:  This requires excellent hunting and consultative selling skills.  If your salespeople haven't developed them, don't bother trying this at home.
  2. Show Up Late.  You can be as late as "We just made the decision to go with ABC" and still get the business.  For all intents and purposes, the competition has stopped and a few well-placed questions can get decision makers to question their decision.  Try these two:  "Who are you buying from?" and "Did you go with them because they understood your problem and had an ideal long term solution with an immediate impact and favorable ROI, or did they distract you from that important stuff with their price?"  
  3. Neutralize the Competition.  You know what you can do that your competition can't.  The key then is for your prospects to want that which only you can do.  Your salespeople must ask enough questions to identify a prospect's compelling reasons to buy from you so that your salespeople can identify a unique solution to their problem.  When your salespeople ask  their prospects why they are interested in doing business with you, their prospects will say it's because you can "Do that thing" they were told about.  Then your salespeople simply ask, "can't XYZ do that?"

If you don't care about profits, you can elminate your competition by pricing your offering so low that you are the clear cut winner on price.  Of course, that doesn't guarantee the business either!

Certainly, the three bullets above aren't the only things your salespeople can do to eliminate competition.  The bigger point is that they probably aren't doing any of the things on the list.  They probably arrive at an opportunity the same way that their competitors do; by getting invited in when the prospect is so far along in their buying process that they are expecting a presentation and proposal from 5 companies.  Unfortunately, that ain't selling - unless - the salesperson is able to regain control of that process and take the opportunity all the way back to 1st base (Baseline Selling) to discover the compelling reasons to buy.  Can your salespeople do that?

Topics: sales training, sales management, Sales Coaching, competition

Sales Competencies and Your Competition

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 06, 2008 @ 11:11 AM

If you have heard me speak or you have completed a profile of your ideal sales hire than you know I believe that your products or services fit into one of four categories of resistance:

  1. Your prospects need it and want it - like food - you have a lot of competition.
  2. Your prospects want it but don't believe they need it - like a luxury car - still lots of competition. 
  3. Your prospects need it but don't want it - like personal lines insurance - lots of competition.
  4. Your prospects don't believe they need it or want it - like high-end consulting - much less or no competition at all.  Not that there aren't others in your space, but your prospects are probably not speaking with the others in your space.

Companies don't invest enough time and energy being strategic and tactical about competition.  The approach shouldn't be economic as much as it should be tactical.  Your approach should revolve around neutralizing your competition as opposed to being competitive with your competition.

For most companies, it's a foregone conclusion that your prospects will buy and the only question is from whom they will buy. But what if you are in group 4?   What if the question is not about from whom but IF they will buy?  What if your biggest competition isn't from another company in your space but it's from prospects that don't think they need what you have?  What if your prospects think that they can do it themselves? Do it in-house?  What if they simply don't want your help? What if your biggest threat is their sense of being able to do without?  That's a totally different strategy than one where you must outsell your competition.  The problem is that most of the group 4 companies use the "why you should buy from us" strategy when they should be using the "why buy at all" strategy.

If you're in group 4, you need salespeople that can create a need for what you have as opposed to salespeople who have mastered the ability to present capabilities and make presentations that focus on why you.

So what if you're a company in groups 1-3 and you have competition and instead of perpetuating the "why buy from us" strategy you adopted the "why buy" strategy from group 3?  If you did that you would suddenly be doing two things your competitors aren't doing.

  1. you'd be creating a greater need for what you sell, which leads to the urgency that causes prospects to pull the trigger;
  2.  you would be differentiating yourself from all of your competitors.
In order to pull this off, your salespeople must be able to sell more consultatively (not a word, an approach), sell value (not tell about the value), and become extremely effective at asking good, tough, timely questions (not making presentations).  Do you have the right salespeople?  Can they make the transition?  What will it take? If you haven't done so already, evaluate your sales force to get these answers.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales competencies, sales assessment, sales, sales process, Salesforce, Sales Force, competition, sales evaluation, sales resistance, sales profile, sales personality test

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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