Over the years while directly being involved in sales myself or leading a sales team, I have realized, it’s always difficult for the sales guy to ask who else is in competition in the account where he’sselling.
Most weak sales people live in this LA LA Land . I still get sales people telling me that the “customer is only talking to me”. It’s actually a dilemma because the earlier you realize that you may not get the order you are scared because you don’t know what you will put in your prospect sheet.
When I was in my early years in sales, I did not have a large enough prospect base most of the time. Now because of that I always had the feeling that I did not have the luxury to lose an order. Due to this I would try to please the customer in every which way hoping that he will not call my competitors to discuss the requirements.
Some of the smart prospects actually used to give me the assurance that they would not discuss with any other company. But when we were called for negotiations, I would realize there were so many players and I didn’t stand a chance.
These failures taught me a few lessons- the first being – never believe that only one person’s decision will be important in a B2B sale. There will Always Always be multiple people involved in a B2B sale.
The second fact is that, there can never be only one company with whom they are discussing for the solution. Due to the success of your marketing you may be the first people they call for a discussion, but be sure they will call others, if only to get you to bring your price down.
The only time when the above may not strictly hold true is when you are building something for them at your cost…..which may be rare because of compliance issues.
Which then means that you should make it a point in every meeting to check out who else is in competition. There are various ways to do it and we can have a separate post on that.
Its better to be clear about your competition in advance and plan your sales accordingly, rather being thrown a curve ball, at the order you had committed was 100% probable and blaming the prospect for underhand dealings or sudden relative of the CFO appearing.
Sales is a very methodical process and you can’t wing it. The people on the other side of the table are seasoned buyers who deal with sales people all day. They also appreciate a professional preparation.
Till next time then.