Have you ever found yourself in a competitive commodity selling environment where your competitor (Brand X) offers inferior quality and/or service or a cheaper price for what your customer is buying?
Here are a few thoughts
Never knock the competition. It will only sound like sour grapes. Instead, tell your prospect about your product or service, using examples of how your customers have benefited from it.
When successful commodity selling is based on differentiation between the companies selling the commodity more than on price. What additional benefits do you offer compared to your competitor?
Here’s a favorite commodity selling story of mine
When I was the branch manager for a safety products company we had a foundry customer who ordered the same pallet load of safety supplies every week. On Thursday the buyer would call and place an order for the long list of items needed Monday. Lynn, the inside sales rep, who handled him would enter the order and make sure it shipped on time. Then one day Lynn suggested to the buyer the that he didn’t need to call each week to place the same order if he would issue a blanket order to cover a period of time. She agreed to hold the price for the period of the blanket order. This saved him time and cemented a long term relationship. The buyer only called when the typical order needed to be changed.
Point out how your commodity offer is the same
Find out what your prospect likes most about the competing product. If your product is comparable or better, point out your commodity product’s features and benefits. You can say, “That is a good feature of Brand X. I’m glad you brought that up. Our customers tell us that’s one of the features they like about our product, too.” This assures the buyer that your product can be seamlessly substituted for the current one. Offer a sample to prove compatibility.
Point out how your commodity offer is different
Find out what they like the least about your competitor, too! If you know about a competitor’s weakness, in commodity selling you do not want to tell your prospect directly. Help the prospect discover it by asking how it will affect your prospect. It might sound like this:
You: “Mr. Prospect, when they told you about the limitations of their limited warranty, what was your reaction?”
Prospect: “They never told me!”
You: “Is the warranty important to you?”
Result: The prospect begins to poke holes in the competition for you.
Commodity Selling Questions to Think About
- How can you help your prospect understand that your competitors are inferior without “bashing” them?
- Why is it important not to bad-mouth your competitors?
- In what ways does your company or you offer unique services to support the commodity selling process?
What You Can Do Right Now
- Research your competitors and know their strengths and weaknesses of the commodity product and perhaps most importanat their organization.
- Evaluate your own commodity selling strategy and make a list of the strengths and weaknesses compared to each of your competitors.
- Begin asking questions of your customers to highlight your competitors’ weaknesses compared to your strenghts.
To learn more sales secrets see Chapter 23, The Competition, in Secrets of the Softer Side of Selling. For even more sales help, join our FREE Sales Club! “See” you next week.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford