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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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for eight 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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