Most sales people are trained to “know
the competition” to some degree. You may be well versed in their products or
services, have a grasp on their pricing matrix, or even know people within
their organization. Knowing the competition helps a sales person prepare to put
their best foot forward in hopes they outshine when the decision making process
But, what happens when the competition
is from within the prospective client’s own company? There are several scenarios
that may cause a company to go out to bid, such as lack of internal capacity or
time, limited resources with the necessary experience, or a desire to learn
from others. And, sometimes leadership may simply want to challenge their own
internal resources by bringing in the “outsiders”.
Regardless of the reason why the project
or service is being outsourced, a sales person is generally at a disadvantage
when they do not know the competition, especially when the competition is from
within. There are two ways to level the playing field. First, asking the right
questions, and second, researching the internal team members (ie competition).
When asking questions, a good sales
person needs to be fluid as with all questioning of a prospect, but also a bit
more invasive while being calculated. Naturally questions arise around the
why’s and when’s as well as the budget and decision making process, but
questions also need to be asked about “how come you’re not doing this yourself?”
A series of open-ended questions, where you get the prospect talking, needs to
be a part of this sales process so you can best gain perspective on why they
feel it is better to bring you in.
Th next step is understanding who the team
members are within the prospective company that would likely take the project
on. This may sound daunting, but with LinkedIn, it becomes easier. Imagine for
a moment that these individuals were another agency that you were bidding
against. Learn who they are, what skill sets they have, what their
qualifications or lack thereof they possess, and then plan to present why you
are a better choice as if they were an agency and not full-time employees.
In presenting your proposal, the final
step, the key approach is not to state reasons why you are a better fit than the
competition, as would normally be the case, rather state all of the facts as to
why your firm will be a great compliment to their organization. Paying compliments
to their current capabilities will play favor with them while also showcasing
how you can jointly take on the project. You don’t want to make them feel
inferior or give them a sense that is what you’re trying to do, instead showing
how your two groups can collaborate will likely increase the odds of you
winning the business.