Why you should praise your competition...
You want to get sales don't you? Why then would you praise your competition?
If you think about it, competition is good - without competition there is no driving force for companies to do better.
If your competitors are totally useless then they aren't competition. But in reality we know in all walks of life that you are going to face competition - and some of those competitors may well be better than you at some things! Surely though, you want to show your customers that you are better than your competitors?
Of course you do!
However you don't do it by denigrating them. In a typical sales process between yourself and your customer (potential or current), there is generally no need to mention your competitors. Your customer is likely to bring them up though - particularly a potential customer will as they of course are already dealing with one or more of your competitors and probably is happy doing so otherwise they would've already switched suppliers.
What do you do when your client mentions the competition? Freeze? Panic? Falter? Your initial thoughts may be 'how can I show that my competitor is not as good as me? What can i say that will put my competitor in a bad light? Then I will be able to put my company in a better light.'
Think for a moment: your customer may well have been dealing with this other firm for many years. He wouldn't be dealing with them if they were pretty poor at what they do would he? He may well have a fantastic relationship with the salesperson from that company or indeed the company itself. You have no idea what that relationship is like, how long it's been going on for and how happy your potential customer is - but you should find out! Ask relevant questions, without being too probing and of course always be respectful.
What you must not do in my opinion though is to rubbish your competitor.
It is usually best to agree and say how you know of the company concerned, that you've heard good things about them, how they've been around for many years etc etc.
Yes PRAISE them!
With your knowledge of both your competition and the trade you are in you can position yourself as a 'guide'. You know so much about the industry that you can help a lot of people. You've travelled far and wide, gaining insights into what sells, why it sells, where it sells and which companies provide the best products and services.
Presumably you've done your homework and you clearly know how buying from your company would be of great benefit to your customer. So tell them! Don't be a salesperson, be a problem solver! People don't buy just products, they buy solutions to the problems they have. Always remember that.
But firstly you must clearly know what the advantages of buying from you are - and whether they fill a need for your customer.
Nobody changes supplier for changes sake. There has to be a catalyst.
Could that be that your company holds better stock - hence you can supply goods quicker? Can you prove your products have certain features and benefits that make them superior. Can you demonstrate through word of mouth, testimonials or maybe awards won that your company has outstanding customer service and always goes the extra mile to make sure their clients are happy?
You will need to do all of this and more to help get that sale. Bear this in mind: Very rarely will any customer switch suppliers lock, stock and barrel, so at best you are only likely to get a small order at first. Make sure you follow up! It's easy to think 'great I have a new account in the bag', but if you don't follow up you may end up with only that small first order. You MUST make sure your new customer is happy, that everything went smoothly (and if it didn't, for any reason you must rectify the problem immediately), and then keep in contact.
Whenever a customer mentions a competitor to me I always try to praise them, to agree on the good things that they do. All competitors have their good points.
So remember, praise where praise is due, however remember who you sell for and always have in mind how dealing with YOU will make your customers life easier, more rewarding and importantly, more profitable.
I hope you have enjoyed this short blog. Please get in touch if you think I could help with any aspects of field sales roles, or retail sales - I'd be delighted to have a discussion with you.