Ok-well not physically. As sales reps we continually try to stay ahead of our competition to gain the business. Staying ahead of your potential customers prevents surprises and keeps you in the running to win the business. Here’s how…
Beat them to the first contact! second, third, & fourth
Whether you are in a business where leads are generated for you by marketing or if you’re a hunter, make a point to beat your customer to the contact. You can’t wait on marketing to massage the customer into creating the right environment for the customer to call you. Beat them to it! Call first and if necessary call often. This is easier when you put the value of the customer first. When planning for your first, or next contact; make sure you have something in it for the customer. For example:
“I came across a new study in your field and wondered if you knew anything about this? What is your take on it? Here is how we’ve helped similar customers in the past.”
If it’s a follow-up to a first contact try this. “I came across this article the other day and I immediately thought about you and I thought that you might like it. By the way, what has transpired since we last spoke?”
“I received some news in a meeting today and I immediately thought about you. It would be a disservice for me not to share.” (this is a good one based on info that you receive in your weekly meetings; have new products launching, shipping dates changing?, revised offerings?, discontinuing a service?, use this info to possibly create urgency and to get in front of the customer)
This approach will take you constantly looking for ways to offer unique ideas or points of value to your customers. I can attest that this is much more successful than simply waiting for customers to contact you or using the same boring script that every other rep in your industry uses. This will set you apart in your field. Notice that neither of the above approaches involve leading with discounts or a promotion or a call to just “check in”. Customers today are bombarded with sales offers and/or reps immediately cutting price in hopes to sound interesting. This cheapens your product and quite frankly makes you sound the same of the five previous offers that the customer has heard.
Beat them to the competition!
How can I beat them to the competition if they already have a provider or if I’m the second or third provider they are investigating? Well, you can’t in a literal sense. You can however be proactive in your approach in addressing competition. Thinking that your potential customer is not going to vet you against other providers will certainly sink your battleship. I’ve been in situations in the past where the call or appointment was going great, the customer was seemingly agreeing to how my product fit their needs and my price was completely within the budget . Slam dunk, right? Wrong! This potential customer went with a competitor that they were previously looking at. I put too much stock in the excitement of the call and overlooked the fact that competition was a factor. A hard lesson, but necessary at the time.
Here is a scenario that just happened a few days ago to show what I mean about beating the customer to the competition.
I was towards the end of a call with a potential customer and she agreed that she liked our product offering. I asked for the sale ( an important step to getting to the competition) and she stated that she wanted to do a little more research and talk to her partner. I said “great!, people who do research typically end up being our best customers, just curious though what type of research will you be doing?” She responded with, “well I’ve found a few other companies on the internet”. “Great, lets talk about that and a few of the companies that you can find.” We spent the next thirty minutes discussing the different products and providers that are found throughout our industry. We ended the call with a significant order and I’m looking forward to her testimonial down the road.
You want to make sure that you address the competition on every call. If you dont’ you will be setting yourself up for a possible loss.
Here are few questions to ask on a call: How have you addressed this need in the past? What other resources are you considering using to address this? (internal/external), Are you looking at other providers? Who? What do you like or not like about what you’ve seen up to this point?
These questions will set you up to beating your potential customer to the competition.
Beat them to the sale!
Always ask for the sale. Confidently, Succinctly, and if ever in doubt, Just Do It! Some will argue that if you’ve done a stellar presentation, met all the needs of the customer, then they will be clamoring to ask you if they can buy. That is great in a perfect world and that may happen at times. In preparation for those times where that doesn’t happen you should be asking for the sale. If you are ever wondering where you stand with a potential customer it never hurts to just ask: “Would you like to get this ordered?”. It’s a simple question, but if there are any objections you can flesh them out by asking. This should create a sense of direction for the rest of your conversation. It doesn’t have to be pushy, or obnoxious, but if you’re at a point where the potential customer doesn’t have questions or many not know what to ask, it would be time to beat them to the sale. They may just be ready to buy, but if they’re not, you’ll know why.
These are just a few ways to beat your customer. This is a mindset of positioning yourself and your customer to win the best outcome and always providing value first.
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