Every time we onboard a new client, we have a kickoff event where we lay the foundation of the sales process we teach at Anthony Cole Training Group. Inevitably, at some point during that kickoff event we talk about dealing with the competition, specifically how to differentiate yourself from the competition you will face.
But to me, it is important to back up the bus just a few stops and ask the question – who is your competition? Most training participants would say the name of another service provider that their prospect could choose at the conclusion of the sales process. Some other introspective training participants would say their greatest competition is themselves, meaning they need to stay out of their own way and deal with some head trash that interferes with them doing some of the harder things in sales. They recognize that they must become “comfortable with being uncomfortable” in order to be more assertive and ask more questions (and some of those questions need to be tough questions).
I can’t argue any of the above – they are all valid points. It is just that I believe something is missing. I have long held a deep conviction that the fiercest competition you will face in selling is what I refer to as “prospect indifference.” This is the dreaded moment at the conclusion of the sales process when they prospect says “we are just going to hold tight for the time being.”
Sometimes this is caused by fear of the unknown – with the prospect concluding maybe it is better to deal with the devil they know (the flawed incumbent provider) than to roll the dice with the devil they don’t know (you and your solution). Other times prospect indifference is the resistive inertia or the gravitational pull back to the incumbent. Regardless of why it occurs it is stiff competition.
Here are five keys to dealing with prospect indifference:
- You better be bold in your approach and your conversations. You must be willing to rattle the windows a little bit as you probe for the impact of the problem the prospect is dealing with.
- You better be sure that you know the difference between a problem that is just a problem and a problem that has become a priority that must be addressed.
- You must be in front of all the decision makers – and one of those decision makers must be the person who is feeling the deepest impact of the problem.
- You must provide “emotional transportation” to your prospect by using a story to move them to a future point where the problem has been solved to measure their reaction to that future state.
- You can’t be afraid to lose….and you must recognize that the best time to lose is early rather than late.
So, know your competition. And deal with your competition – even if it is you!