I grew up in a business that was much smaller than the major competitors with whom we battled for business. I learned to sell by competing with competitors with revenue thousands of times greater than my company for the largest prospects in my territory. Rarely did I have to compete against a company of equal or smaller revenue.
Here is a pattern I picked up that’s worth sharing.
The Safer Choice
They used to say “Nobody got fired for hiring IBM.” Maybe they still say this.
It is easy for companies to choose a large, well-established company as their partner. You don’t get to be a large corporation without building the processes and systems that allow you to do good work. A large company appears to be safer because many others have chosen them as a partner, they have great resources, and they seem to be less of a risk when it comes to execution.
The first time through a real buying process a lot of big businesses choose other large companies as their partners. And so do a lot of smaller companies.
It’s Not Us, It’s Them
When the larger company doesn’t produce the expected results, it’s very easy for the customer to believe that the larger company is to blame. In many cases this is true. Those same processes and systems that allow a large business to scale also make it tough for them to customize their approach to individual clients or customers. This is where bigger companies begin to have some challenges.
By not being able to customize their solution or give attention to some of their many customers, larger companies end up creating enough dissatisfaction that they open themselves up to the threat of being competitively displaced. That sounds like an excellent opportunity, but much of the time, the buying company isn’t quite ready to let go of the safer choice. So they choose another larger company as their partner, believing that switching partners will change the result.
Ready for Real Change
After a couple of rounds with larger companies as partners, many companies are ready for real change. They find out that the solution they want is going to require a partner who is willing and able to customize a solution specifically tailored to them and their business. This is when the playing field is leveled and smaller competitors who have done their homework have a chance to win.
You have to start nurturing your dream clients now to ensure you get an opportunity to compete. This is how you punch above your weight class.
The Long Game
The first time you compete, win or lose, you get to meet the people who make decisions. You also get a chance to start building your case.
The second time you compete, you get an opportunity to deepen the relationship and show your dream client how your ability to tailor your solution will give them what they want.
The third time you compete, if you’ve nurtured relationships, you massively increase your odds of winning because you are known and because your dream client is continually disappointed with the results larger companies fail to provide.
- What are you doing to future relationships in your dream client accounts so that you can make yourself known and obtain an opportunity to compete?
- How do you stay engaged with your dream clients during the periods where they are working with your competitors so that you have successfully made your case when they are dissatisfied enough to move to a smaller company?