I am not suggesting that you don’t say anything bad about them. You have to. You have to differentiate yourself from them, and if you aren’t right with your differences that make the difference, then you are a commodity. Of course, it’s never right to name them by name, but it is necessary to point out why what you do is worth paying for and worth choosing above all others.
That being said, even if you believe you are superior in every way, you should not ever take your competition lightly. You need to treat them with the respect a warrior treats a dangerous opponent, one who could easily end his game.
They Are Hungry, Too
You want to win deals. You want to bring on the dream clients that you make a difference for and whose business will make a difference for you and your company. You are hungry (hopefully not starving). You believe you want a deal more than anybody, and you have worked to nurture this dream client for years.
When the opportunity arises, know that you are not alone. There are others who want this deal every bit as badly as you do. The fact the opportunity now exists means that they are also in the game. And they are not sitting by passively.
Know your competition is every bit as hungry as you are, and know that they are going to act accordingly. Don’t underestimate how badly they want the deal that you want or the lengths they will go to get it. They are hungry, and some of them are starving.
They Have Great Salespeople, Too
You are a great salesperson. You know great salespeople on your team. You have friends in sales that are also great salespeople. But your competitors have great salespeople, too. If you lined up their team’s statistics and your team’s statistics, you might be surprised to find out that they have a top 20% and that it is a damn fine 20%.
You may assume that one of their top 20-percenters is who you are up against. You may assume that they are bringing their A-game, and that you are going to need to bring your best self to the contest in order to win. Don’t underestimate your competitor’s salespeople, even if you have beaten them for a deal before. This reeks of the arrogance that costs you and your company deals because you disrespect their ability.
Assume that your competitor has a salesperson or two on their team who is every bit as good as you are or better. Behave as if you need to follow the iron laws of sales more diligently and with a greater devotion than your competitor will. Know that you need to follow your process and you need to think outside of the box to ensure you do what is within your power to win the deal.
They Have the Ability to Create Value
Know that your competition is a good company with some great people. They have clients, some of whom love them as much or more than your clients love you. This means that they know how to create value for their clients, and you can be pretty sure that they can create value for your dream client.
You may have a better differentiating value. You may have the right solution to solve your dream client’s dissatisfaction. But you can bet your life with no risk of losing it that your competitor has a defining differentiator, too. You can bet that they also have a plan to solve your dream client’s dissatisfaction. And you can be sure that they are going to prove that they know how to create value when they step into that boardroom (a few hours before you do, or a few hours after you leave).
Even though you need to have confidence in your solution and your ability to create value, don’t believe that your competitors don’t have the same ability to do the same, albeit with a different solution.
Treat your competitors with the respect any great competitor owes another. Know that they are willing to work as hard to create value as you are. Know that they are hungry for the opportunity to do so, and that there are people counting on them to do so. Know that they have great salespeople, some who may even better than you are.
Treating them with respect means focusing on improving your skills and attributes as a salesperson, knowing that you will need to bring your best self to every contest in order to win the opportunity to serve your dream clients. Anything less is arrogance and folly.
Selling successfully requires the confidence of believing in your ability to create value for your dream clients. But it doesn’t mean you should disrespect your competition by underestimating them. If you would beat them, show them the respect that they deserve.
- Do you believe that your competitors are every bit as hungry to win your dream client as you are? Do you behave accordingly, nurturing these relationships with a consistency that violates the stalking laws of some jurisdictions?
- Do you underestimate how great your competitors salespeople are, believing that they couldn’t have anybody with the skills and the attributes that you possess? Isn’t it helpful to be reminded of the fact that their A-game might be a tough A-game for you to tangle with?
- You spent a lot of time learning how to create the right solution for your dream client. You know it is right and you feel it in your bones. Have you considered that your hungry, A-game bringing competitor is also a value creator who has been doing exactly as you have?
- Shouldn’t you stay up an extra hour tonight tightening things up a bit? Don’t you hope they are fast asleep, confident that you can’t beat them?
For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4279.
Read my monthly post on Sales Bloggers Union.