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.