Over 80 years ago Dale Carnegie related a story about how Charles Schwab had a steel mill manager whose people weren’t producing their work quota. “How is it that a manager as capable as you can’t seem to make this mill turn out the amount of steel it should” Schwab asked him?”
The manager replied, “I don’t know. I’ve coaxed the men, I’ve pushed them, and I’ve sworn and cussed. I’ve threatened them with damnation and being fired. Nothing seems to work. They just won’t produce.”
This conversation took place at the end of the day, just before the night shift began. Schwab asked the manager for a piece of chalk, then, turning to the nearest man, asked:
“How many heats did your shift make today?” “Six.”
Without another word, Schwab chalked a big figure six on the floor and left the building. When the night shift came in they asked what the big “6” meant. “The big boss was here today and, he asked us how many heats we made, and we told him six. He chalked it down on the floor,” the day people said.
The next morning Schwab walked through the mill again. The night shift had rubbed out the “6” and replaced it with a big “7”.
When the day shift reported for work the next morning, they saw a big “7” chalked on the floor. So the night shift thought they were better than the day shift, did they? Well, they would show the night shift a thing or two. The crew pitched in enthusiastically, and at quitting time that night, they left behind an enormous, swaggering “10.”
Things were stepping up. Shortly this mill, which had been lagging, was turning out more work than any other in the plant.
Schwab said, “The way to get things done is to stimulate competition and the desire to excel by throwing down the gauntlet; an infallible way of appealing to people of spirit!”
Selling against a competitor is tough, but it is something you must learn to do because you will face it every day. As you prepare to compete, you realize there are no formal courses offered in school to provide the information you need to slug it out successfully in the marketplace. Since there is no readily available silver bullet, here are few suggestions that might just cause your competition to break out into a sweat.
Exhibit confidence – Motivated competitors put doubts and challenges about your product or service in the minds of your buyers, in the hope that you will get rattled. Being prepared to counter the competition with information that is important is only part of the equation. You must be confident, like the night shift in Schwab’s steel mill, to the point that you are motivated to compete. There is a quote, whose author is unknown, which reads, “Insecurity will always rent the space it occupies, but confidence will own the building, and any other room it steps in.”
Endure counterpunches – When a competitor is involved, make sure you can effectively oppose their weaknesses with your strengths. When you understand the identity of the competitor, what the pain is, what the buyer wants, and which features your buyer likes best; you have what you need to move forward. Use the old Ben Franklin, side-by-side comparison method to trump your opponent unabashedly. Also, be prepared to discuss several of your strengths that haven’t surfaced yet, as reinforcements for your cause when the competitive battle heats up.
Eclipse bashing – Emotions rise and livelihoods are on the line, so sometimes salespeople hit below the belt, making the temptation to hit back overwhelming. Remember that customers don’t respect extreme bashing, so take the high road and beat them professionally.
Let your rivals dig their own holes, as you continue to focus on the buyer’s issues and the capabilities you offer. Most prospects will see through the smoke and mirrors and eventually lean your way.
Explain solutions – Maintain your focus on the customer and solving their problems, rather than bloviating and nitpicking over minor competitive details. In the end, the customer will go with the rep that appears to best understand their problems, and employs sound methods of solving them. Not being distracted by the competition will really annoy the enemy, and that’s the best way to counter the opposition.
Extrapolate comparisons – A good way to be able to pick and choose your battles is to obtain and maintain a rap sheet on your toughest competitors. Mystery shop them and use this information to construct a comparison checklist, focusing on the areas that appear to most interest the prospect. This is a great confidence builder for you and will ensure you are armed and dangerous, ready for every question and concern.
Remembering that practice makes better, employing these and other strategies will make you stronger and more successful under the competitive pressures all salespeople must face.
——————Here’s a Question for You———————
What do the following articles in the Albany CEO Business News, Ellijay Times-Courier, Lee County Ledger, and Albany Herald have in common with each other? Now, to see the point of all of that, take a look here.
©2018 Robinson Training Solutions, LLC