Every B2B salesperson has more than one company in their funnel they want to sell, but can’t figure out how to impeach the incumbent who is their current vendor. When you have attempted to break through you get the same old jazz, “Thanks but we’re satisfied with the company that services us now.”

Knowing that if you keep doing what you’re doing you will keep getting what you’re getting, why not try a different approach in order to have a shot at a different result. Here are several ideas:

Businesses care about 3 issues; reducing costs, reducing risks, and increasing revenue. These are being highlighted early in this article so that you, the salesperson, will keep the main thing as the main thing during your conversations. You may have many interesting things to say but your selling conversation priorities should be wrapped around these three prospect goals.

Are you sure where to place the target? If you don’t know specifically who the incumbent is, it’s going to be more difficult to know how to oust them. Once you know for sure, and if you have done some mystery shopping as I explained in this two-part article here and here, you will be able to cobble together a solid proposal and expose gaps in their current service without ever mentioning the competitor’s name.

With that established, it would be entirely appropriate to mention that many of your clients felt they were basically happy with existing vendors, but were willing to look elsewhere due to changing demands that current vendors struggled to fulfill.

As always, questions are your best friends.

During your pre-call planning and/or discovery, ask the following questions to as many employees and stakeholders as you come into contact with, in order to get a clear picture of the current state of service being provided.

  1. What do you like about your current provider and the service they provide?

By learning the perceived strengths of the existing provider, you will learn to ensure that your service will be laser focused on maintaining and even improving what is being delivered in those areas.

  1. What don’t you like or wish you could change about your current provider and their service?

This question will provide you with a ‘yellow brick road’ list of weaknesses and failures of the existing provider. Make sure you zero in on those issues and underscore how your solution will meet and exceed those objectives, without vilifying the incumbent.


Go for the heart before you go for the throat. You should never forget that people buy with their emotions and then justify their purchases with logic. So even when they realize your company provides a superior service, they probably have an emotional connection to the current provider that will be difficult to overcome. Go ahead and get the 800 pound gorilla out in the open and begin to deal with it. The buyer knows all is not well with the existing service, but may feel like a Benedict Arnold to even entertain the idea of changing vendors. Consider their feelings about buying from a different company that they’re not sure will be able to deliver.

Get ahead of these feelings by admitting that if you were in their shoes you would be wondering if this outsider can really match up, and also has a valid plan of action for when things go south. An empathetic statement like that will help level the playing field and go a long way toward separating you from all the other over-promisers in the marketplace.

Above all, avoid personal pity parties. It is commonplace for sales reps to look in the mirror and convince themselves that they won’t be able to win over prospects that are long term customers of other providers before the opening bell has even rung. Often they wimp out then or act half-heartedly.

Start thinking differently and you will begin to act differently. As Yogi Berra used to say, “Hit it where they ain’t.” The vendor you are attempting to replace may have been there for a long time but may not be able to provide everything needed in today’s economy.

You job is to determine the gaps in service offerings and pursue them rather than dwell on the part your prospect is most worried about giving up. Gain a foothold into the enterprise by this fork in the road and then work hard to climb from vendor to credible source, to problem solver, and eventually you will become a trusted advisor and will earn ALL their business. Sometimes you must be willing to start small and “earn your stripes.”

Impeaching incumbents is not easy. To succeed you must learn to get out of your own way and avoid becoming a suicide bomber. Be willing to live by the principle of delayed gratification as you create and build value for your buyers and customers.

————Adding Value for Your Enterprise————

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