Hidden Sales Competition and Why it Could Happen to You

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 27, 2021 @ 14:09 PM

I recently took these pictures of mushrooms on our property that I had not seen prior to this year.  Bright reds, bright oranges, whites and more.  After living on this property for the past twenty years, it really surprised me that these bright colored mushrooms appeared out of nowhere.  Then again, my wife and I have cut down a lot of trees and cleared a lot of brush in the last twelve months.  Could they have been growing there right along and we simply didn't see them?

Can you guess where this is going?

Have you ever had a sales opportunity that was completely under control, you were following your sales process, everything was looking great, and then, from out of nowhere and without warning, surprise competitors appeared?  

Yes, the magic mushroom competitors! 

Were those competitors competing for the business the entire time and the prospect didn't share that important piece of information?  Did you neglect to ask if they were talking with or looking at anyone else? Or, and this is important, were they eleventh hour additions to the game?  

The late-to-the-game addition is the easiest to deal with because we have the most clarity on this scenario.  Prospects invite additional competition when they are not 100% sold on one or more of the following 15 possibilities:

  1. your offering
  2. your price
  3. your company
  4. your timing
  5. your delivery
  6. your options
  7. your responsiveness
  8. your testimonials
  9. your quality
  10. your track record
  11. your politics
  12. your sense of humor
  13. your location
  14. your customer service
  15. your technical service

Prospects generally don't want to compromise so it only takes one thing that was either not covered, not explained, not handled, not offered, or not included and they may look elsewhere.  So what can you do to make sure that never happens to you (again)?

You need to more thoroughly qualify your opportunities!!! 

EVERYTHING that could go wrong must be anticipated and discussed during your qualification stage. That's why you should never, ever, ever rely on a proposal or a quote or a Scope of Work to explain your offering, prices or fees.  Those documents merely formalize in writing what you have already agreed to!  YOU close and if they want to move forward WITH YOU, then you can send it. 

Prior to that you should discuss EVERYTHING from fees, to terms, to timelines, to alignment, to expectations, to fit, to yes, competition.  And if there is competition, discuss it, ask why, ask how they feel about them, who they are leaning towards, why, and what you can do about it?  And when it comes to what you can do about it, DO NOT EVER LET IT BE ABOUT LOWERING YOUR PRICE.  NEVER.  If they ask you to match or lower your fees, ask, "other than pricing, what can I do?"

Qualifying is one of the 21 Sales Core Competencies that Objective Management Group measures in both its sales force evaluations and its accurate and predictive Sales Candidate Assessments.

When it comes to hidden competition, don't act like you've been taking the magic mushrooms and developing happy ears.  ASK QUESTIONS!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales core competencies, sales qualifying, selling against competition

The Prospect Isn't Talking with Any Other Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 04, 2011 @ 12:04 PM

Have you ever heard that one before?

It's not that this can't happen.  Some people don't need to compare, talk with three companies, look at several options or get three quotes.  I don't.  Most great salespeople don't.  And your salespeople should never assume that a prospect NEEDS to shop around.

On the other hand, when the salesperson says, "They aren't talking with anyone else", and it turns out that they were, you have to wonder how the salesperson missed it.

There are several reasons why it could get missed.  They include:

  • The call just went SO well that your salesperson assumed there wasn't anyone else involved and didn't want to get someone else involved by asking;
  • The prospect didn't mention it and the salesperson didn't want to ask;
  • The salesperson asked and the prospect lied;
  • The salesperson asked and there wasn't anyone else at the time, but they got others involved at some point later on.
  • The call didn't go very well and the salesperson wasn't comfortable asking about competition.

In most of these scenarios, the salesperson is to blame, usually because of their own discomfort.  I don't know about you, but I would much rather know about the existence of a competitor, than worry that just because I asked, a competitor might suddenly appear.  The reality is that if your salespeople are effective, it is easier to sell against competition than it is to sell without competition.  Don't believe me?

The existence of competition usually means that the prospect is going to take action and purchase something.  The lack of competition is often a sign that they aren't motivated to buy, the timing isn't right, and they aren't convinced that they need what you provide.

The next time you ask about competition and a salesperson says, "They aren't talking with anyone else", challenge your salesperson on their prospect's motivation to buy - their urgency - and ask, "How do you know?"  "When you asked them about competition, what did they say?" 

Selling against competitors is normal, everyday activity for most salespeople.  Great salespeople can outsell great companies all day long.  The problem is that you have to know who they are before you can outsell them!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales process, Sales Coaching, selling against competition, competitive selling, RFQ's, RFP's

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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 nine 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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