Here is the scene: You, great salesperson that you are, are challenged by your boss to break into an account who is very loyal to your competition. How do you sell against the entrenched competition?
Typical Buying Modes
For this blog let’s keep it to three modes most common to situations with entrenched competition: recurring purchases, straight rebuy and modified rebuy. Recurring purchases are for products or services bought regularly. Examples are raw materials, office supplies or freight hauling. Buyers repeat these purchases with the current vendor. Some times these purchases happen automatically as inventory levels are reduced. Or on a particular predetermined schedule. There may be a periodic review but the entrenched competition has the upper hand. Straight rebuys are purchases of the same product or service made when needed. A new truck for the service department or sales training. Modified rebuys are similar to previous purchases but have some variation. Buying new computers to support a new software or media advertising in a new market.
So You Want To Win The Business From An Entrenched Competitor
Great salespeople use the six step selling process to win new business. First they build rapport to get the buyer to like and trust them. Next they create pain to cause the buyer to change. Great salespeople get the prospect to discuss budget and are sure they are dealing with the decision maker. They present based on information gleaned from carefully crafted questions. And they ask for the order. Throughout the selling process great salespeople are looking for weaknesses in the entrenched competitor. They are testing their value proposition against the needs of the buyer.
Timing Is Everything
Great salespeople are patient and persistent when selling to oust an entrenched competitor. By building rapport and having mutually beneficial sales meetings with decision makers, salespeople learn when to strike. For recurring purchases they learn the purchase schedule and when the contract will be up for review. Great salespeople keep poking at the pain when they find out the entrenched competitor has not performed well. By keeping in close contact with the buyer, salespeople know when a straight rebuy will occur. Having done their homework, great salespeople know the budget and the key points to make differentiating themselves when presenting to the decision maker. For modified rebuys, salespeople offer expert help to the buyer so they make the best decision. Then selling as they would for a straight rebuy.
Get To Know Your Prospect
All purchase decisions are emotional and we buy from those we like and trust. The first step is building rapport with your prospect. Become a valued resource for them even though they are not yet a customer. By “making a friend” you will learn:
- When people change jobs
- About future plans for growth
- They won a new contract
- There is a planned move or expansion
- To anticipate a potential business sale or purchase
- Failings of the entrenched competitor
All of these are signs for the great salesperson to swoop in and take the business.
And If You Are The Entrenched Vendor
Know there are good competitors looking to take the business from you. Make sure every transaction, every delivery and every meeting adds value to your customer’s business. Keep tuned in for potential changes in their business and in personnel. Monitor the market anticipating changes in your customer’s needs. Be a valuable resource to you customer.
Don Crawford & Lois Carter Crawford