Competition is one of the most challenging obstacles any business has to overcome. According to McKinsey & Company, 85% of business executives believe their industry is more competitive than it was five years ago, while research from 24/7 Inc. shows that 79% of customers are willing to try a competitor within one week of experiencing poor customer service.
So what are the best ways to handle competitors? Here are five to improve your sales best practices.
1. Research Your Competition Thoroughly
Arguably, the biggest step you can take towards successfully beating your competitors is to know your enemy. If you are going to compete with other businesses, you need to know where their strengths lie, where they are weak, and how you can offer customers a better product, service, or experience.
Check their websites, press releases, and job posts. Use customer review websites to see how they are perceived and read local newspapers and trade journals.
2. Differentiate Your Business and Your Products
Once you have identified exactly who your competitors are and what they have to offer, you can start the vital process of differentiation. Essentially, this involves making sure your business is different from the ones operating in the same competitive field.
This could be achieved through offering a one-of-a-kind product, by giving your products a distinctive appearance, or by gearing your sales training towards offering truly unique customer service.
3. Train Your Sales Team to Build Good Relationships
In today’s competitive marketplace, people buy from those they trust the most. This means your business needs to build a strong relationship with individual customers, and the biggest tool your company has is its sales team.
Make relationship building a key part of your sales executive training and make sure your team provides the kind of insight, customer service, and technical expertise that your competitors will struggle to match.
4. Avoid Speaking Negatively about Competitors
It is possible that some customers may have had their opinions of your business influenced by your competitors, but try not to fall into the trap of engaging in tit-for-tat insults.
Ultimately, you must focus on what you can offer your customers and not on your competitors’ shortcomings. Besides which, engaging in a slagging match often serves to make your sales staff appear untrustworthy and desperate, which are not attractive qualities.
5. If All Else Fails, Focus on Providing Value
Repeated research has shown that, when all is said and done, many customers will make their buying decisions based on price. However, a recent study carried out by MHIGlobal found that price is one of the top two competitive challenges that sales professionals struggle most with.
It is not always possible to lower your price and retain your profit margin, so frame the challenge in terms of providing value instead. Throw in special offers, give customers more for their money, make sure your products are significantly better, or go the extra mile with your services.
About the Author
Monika Götzmann is the EMEA Marketing Director for MHI Global (formerly AchieveGlobal), a global sales training and customer experience company specializing in providing exceptional sales management courses and helping organizations develop business strategies to achieve sales success. Monika enjoys sharing her insights and thoughts to provide better sales and leadership training.