Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Competition From Within - June 10, 2017

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 takes place.


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.

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