How to separate yourself from the competition
Is there any moment more exciting professionally than when you land your first job? Whether you’re selling yourself, selling real estate, selling insurance, selling a product, selling a service– it’s thrilling to be on the cusp of growth and opportunity.
But it’s also a time when you really have to set yourself apart from the first day. In fact, one of the most common questions I get as a sales expert relates to this. How do I become the best sales rep? What is the one strategy I can use that will set me apart from the other sales reps on my team?
The problem lies in the question. The problem with this question isn’t that you don’t know HOW to become the best; the problem is that you don’t know ENOUGH to become the best. To know enough to become the best, there is a lot to learn. But there is one area that separates top performers from under average performers: top performers know their competition. Knowing your competition will give you a significant edge over average sales reps.
When I say, “Know your competition,” I don’t mean just knowing who your competitors are and the products or services they sell. That’s basic and you don’t come to a sales expert to learn the basics. Knowing your competition means knowing more about their product and service than your competitor does. You should be able to articulate the exact details of your competitor’s product or service better than they do. And, you should also know what are they saying to their prospects about you and your product and your service. When you know how they are selling against you, you reach master level of understanding your competitors. Learn what they are saying about their product and your product. By doing so, you can learn what is causing your potential customers not to choose you.
This information isn’t top secret. You can get the information yourself. You can get some info from coworkers, but that’s just a starting point. Start by asking your existing, loyal customers. They’ll be approached by competitors, if they haven’t been already. When that happens, ask them if they can share with you what they said– about your product and about their product. Any info they can give you will be a good starting point for gaining an edge on your competitors. Then do follow up research. There is so much information available online today that the lack of knowledge isn’t an acceptable excuse for ignorance about your competition.
Once you have that dialed in, you have to use that information. In order to use that information effectively, you need a plan of attack. Collaborate with peers and managers. If you work alone, then you have set time aside to work on it. You must craft your talk track. You need to create small sound bites that you can utilize in your arsenal when you’re speaking with your customer. You need a 15-30 second bites where you poke holes in your competitors’ product. You need multiple sound bites about your competitors on why they aren’t as affective, why they aren’t as efficient, why they’re more expensive or less expensive. You also need to be able to keep the conversation flowing. The holes need to be valid and accurate, and they need to be significant enough to get the prospect’s attention.
If you do the research, you learn about your competitors, you learn about what they’re saying about your product, how they’re selling against you, now you have all the tools necessary to poke holes in your competitor next time you’re in a competitive situation. That doesn’t mean it ends there. After you’ve done it once, I highly recommend you stay in touch and checking-up for new competitive information. The biggest mistake you can make is to assume your competitors aren’t good sales people. Instead, you have to assume they are doing the opposition research on you. You have to assume they are reading sales expert blogs and listening to sales expert podcasts– just like you are. You have to assume they know what you’re saying about them and how you’re selling your product. And then you have to be ready to shift tactics so you can keep that competitive edge throughout your sales career.