COMPETITIVE: Competes fiercely but never runs down competition
COMPETITIVE: Competes fiercely but never runs down competition
“Lucky you” said Brijesh, poking a finger into Karan’s ribs.
“Dude, you’re violating social distancing” Karan said “And your coffee is getting cold”
The friends were catching up for the first time in months. A quick coffee at a fast food was the only option in a city that was still unlocking very slowly
“Karan, you’re the busiest in our entire group today. Most of our friends are simply praying for normal work to restart. Do you remember your complaints about having to sell a dull moving product? Now your product is on fire!”
“Possibly because it’s inflammable” laughed Karan “Agree with you Brijesh, now there’s no need to create demand for the range of sanitizers my company sells. But I still have sales challenges”
Brijesh gave him a slow wink. “Like choosing how much sales incentive you take home?”
“You’re not understanding me Brijesh, I’m serious. Sanitizers are in demand everywhere, yes. But competition is killing. Our Sales Head has put me in institutional sales. I‘m in charge of bulk quantity sales to Health Care Facilities. Any hospital or clinic, I call, they name at least 3 competing products that are priced lower. Or they talk about some useless, non value add features like fruit or flower scents. A sanitizer to do its job, must kill viruses and microbes. If I want to smell nice, I can as well buy a perfume or a deo”
“I always thought sanitizers are pretty much like toilet soaps. It hardly matters which brand you use”
“No Brijesh. According to experts, you should look for 3 things in a sanitizer. One, quality, type and percentage of alcohol used. Isopropyl is regarded the best. My company uses it. Alcohol content must be between 60% and 95%. According to US Centre for Disease Control, anything less than 60% makes the sanitizer ineffective. Two, the type of disinfectant additive added. Three, the gelling agents and fragrances. That’s more cosmetic in nature. Most important is the alcohol quality and percentage. Very few buyers notice this. Competition prices its products lower as their quality standards are not as stringent or detailed as ours. Competition cheats and my Customers don’t seem to be sensing it. So my job isn’t a walk in the park you think it is”
“Whoa Karan, cool it a bit” said Brijesh “I remember what my sales coach in our company taught me about fighting competition. Fight nail and tooth, but don’t bad mouth your competition’
Karan banged a fist into his palm “That’s all fine Brijesh, but how do I convince my Customers then? How do I get them to understand that they may end up buying poor quality product?”
“Best way to fight competition is to “Always RA and Never RD”, as my sales coach taught me”
“Which is ….?”
“Always Respectfully Acknowledge and Never Run Down”
“Ok.. If I had been in your place, I would have said to the Customer ‘Yes, fragrance is one of the preferred benefits in sanitizers. The brands you mentioned are good examples for Customers preferring fragrance’ Once I acknowledge the competition this way, the Customer nods in agreement. The Customer gets to know I am on his side. Building on that positive vibe, I would ask ‘ What would be more important for you? That the sanitizer just smells lovely like a deodorant? Or that it destroys germs?’ That could get the conversation moving forward in the right direction for you”
“Good idea.. Will try that next time. Thanks a bunch!”
Doyens in sales are highly competitive. They are proud of the products they sell and the company they represent. So, they fight to compete fiercely from that place of pride. Their strategy to beat competition has 3 levers:
- They are well researched and know everything that can be known about their own products, policies and practices and those of the competition. They have well-informed and convincing answers to the Customer’s question – “How does your product compare with the one I’m currently using?”
- They never run down their competition– Seasoned sales professionals don’t speak disparagingly about competition’s offerings. They are aware that if you run down a rival product and if that product happens to be used by your Customer, you might leave a strong negative impression. So, they respectfully acknowledge and quickly move on to spotlight the strong points of their own offering.
- They bring in a knowledge differential – Buyers, particularly institutional Customers seek industry level information from the salesperson. So top notch salespeople use this edge to position themselves ahead of their competition
Sales champions build resilience by staying competitive. They don’t feel the need to run down their competition. They run ahead of it.
Action Question: List 5 most frequently heard Customer comments about your competition. How can you create a script to counter them without running down the competition?
Related Reading: Mercuri Insight Document on Are your people struggling to sell price?
About the series: This is the 40th in a series of 100 Posts that purport to build your #Sales Resilience.. as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.
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