Know Your Competition Part II

Ted Kennedy died a couple of days ago and it seems there is a sense of sadness around the country for the passing of the Senator from Massachusetts. Regardless of whether people agreed with his positions on political issues or not, there is little debate that he devoted his life to public service. There was this same sense of loss with the death of Michael Jackson a couple of months ago. I was thinking about why do we feel such a sense of sadness and loss when a celebrity or public figure dies.

With the constant and instant availability of news and communications, today’s world allows us to have an unprecedented access to celebrities and public figures. We know the likes and dislikes of celebrities and public figures because it is reported in so many forms of media. We have the TV magazine shows, people sections of newspapers, and the internet. If you really searched hard enough you could probably find out what your favorite celebrity had for dinner last night. This access to information actually creates the feeling that we “know” the celebrities or public figures on a personal level. This contributes to the sense of loss and sadness when there is the death of a celebrity or public figure.

There is a lesson that can be learned from these recent high profile deaths. From a sales point of view, how well do you know your prospects and customers? Do you know them as well as you know your favorite celebrity? Do you know their hobbies and recreational preferences? After all, how many people don’t know that Ted Kennedy liked sailing? Your goal should be to know as much about your prospect as possible. Not only the needs and wants from a business perspective, but the personal things that make them unique as individuals.

Why not set out to know your prospects. You could make a personal information form that you keep the personal information for each prospect. That form could include information about their children, hobbies, favorite books they like to read, places they like to travel, etc. When you can establish a relationship on the personal level as well as the business level, you are in a better position to win the sale.

Know Your Competition

There are a lot of things that go into winning the sales game. There are the sales skills that have to be learned. There are the interpersonal skills that have to be mastered in order to build solid relationships. There is the self discipline that you have to have in order to keep going when things are not going the way you want them to. Another thing to add to the list is knowing your competition.

First, let’s be clear on what competition is. Competition is any alternative that your prospect may be considering as an option to the solution you will provide. So then, competition could be another company that provides products or services similar to yours. Or, competition could come in the form of something completely different. For example, your competition could be your prospect is contemplating not outsourcing what they need from you or another company, but doing it themselves.

You have to know the competition in order to sell against it. You have to know not only the features of the competition, but you must also know the impact those features will have on your prospect. Understanding what your prospect wants to accomplish is critical in presenting your solution and positioning it against the competition. If you focus on what matters to your prospect, which may not be the best features of your product or service, you will have a greater probability of winning the sale. To win the sale, you have to show how your product or service is superior to any other alternative that your prospect is considering. In order to effectively do this you have to first know what alternatives are being considered and you have to be an expert on the competition.

To learn your competition you have to study. Read the trade journals associated with your industry. Stay up to date with the latest trends that have an impact on your target market. Know who the key sales people are for your competition and get to know how they like to approach and sell prospects. Have a regular systematic self development program for learning the competition. It’s not just enough to know what your product or service does, you have to know your competition too.

Be Adaptable In Communicating With Prospects

5,965 could be a large number for some things and a small number for other things. The number is just a number and the significance is relative to the subject matter. For the subject matter I’m speaking of. 5,965 is a large number. This is the number of text messages my youngest son Tyler had last month. It’s a good thing I have unlimited text messaging for his account! I said to myself, how could someone text that much in one month? In a 30 day period Tyler had to text on the average almost 200 text messages a day. Pretty impressive number isn’t’ it? This new way of communicating is actually fascinating. Both my sons would rather text than call. They’re both in college and very busy doing college stuff and the preferred method of communicating for them is texting.

For me texting does not come as naturally as it does for them. It seems it takes me a long time to scratch out a sentence on the phone. Maybe my fingers are too large or the key pad is too small. Either way, for me it just seems to take a long time to send even a three word text. I’m waiting for the voice recognition text technology to become widely available. But if I’m going to be in communication with my sons, I’d better get used to the idea texting.

Prospects and customers have a way they prefer to communicate too. If you are insistent on communicating the way you want to communicate and not the way they want to communicate, you are going to have communication breakdowns. It would be wise to check with your customers and prospects and ask what the preferred method of communication is. Some may prefer email, some telephone, some virtual meetings, and yes, some even texting.

Being adaptable to customer’s and prospect’s needs is what selling is all about. If you can’t be adaptable to communicate in the manner in which customers and prospects prefer, are you really the one they should partner with in a business relationship?

Be adaptable! For me, I’ve got to start exercising my thumbs. I want to get my fair share of the 5,965.