One of the biggest challenges in sales is outplaying your competition, especially if that competition currently has the business.
When you are playing against the incumbent relationship make sure you ask the following question: “Who wins a tie?”
If you are a football fan, you will clearly know what I’m talking about when I mention the Overtime Rule in the NFL. What the NFL’s Overtime Rule boils down to is:
- If the game ends in a tie after regulation time, then an overtime period will be played.
- The official flips a coin, and whoever wins the toss decides if they want to be on offense or defense.
- If the team that has the first possession in overtime scores a touchdown the game is over, the scoring team wins.
This is what happened in the Chiefs vs Bills Divisional Playoff game Sunday, and the Bills lost. This is also what happened in the Chiefs vs Patriots AFC Championship game three years ago, and the Chiefs lost.
What does this have to do with selling and losing to the competition? Everything.
It almost never fails. Of the over 2 million salespeople tested by the Objective Management Group Sales Force Evaluation, 90% of the top 7% of all salespeople take responsibility for their outcomes. They don’t play the blame game. When you ask them why they didn’t get a sale, close an opportunity, or hit their quota, their answer will start with “I”.
Based on the research we’ve done over the last 25 years using the OMG tool, we know that at least 66% of the non-elite salespeople (93% of all salespeople evaluated) blame either the competition, the economy, or their company for lack of results or failure to close an opportunity.
It sounds something like this when a deal doesn’t close: “What happened?” “The incumbent came in and matched our price and kept the deal.”
Translation – I lost the toss of the coin, the other team got the last look, and they got the deal across the goal line and won.
What happens when we are in competition and it’s our own client that is shopping the market: “What happened? They looked at a competitor, told me what they were offering, we sharpened our pencil a little, and got the deal.”
Translation – I won the coin toss, saw what the competitor was doing, altered our original proposal, and won the deal.
When we win the toss, we don’t complain about a prospect shopping and picking us. When we don’t win the toss and don’t win the deal, we complain that the prospect wasn’t honest with us, used us to get a better deal, or the competition simply won on price.
You can’t have it both ways. I assure you that if the Buffalo Bills had won the toss and won the game no one in Buffalo would be complaining about the Overtime Rule.
The best way to deal with the overtime coin toss is to avoid getting there. When you are in competition against the incumbent make sure you ask 100% of the time the following question: “Who wins a tie?”
The answer will help you determine if you should risk a loss by going into overtime against an incumbent relationship that has already won the toss.