4 Ways to Stand Apart from Your Competition
Whatever you’re selling, you’ve got competition. Somebody besides you is selling to your clients and customers on a regular basis. Assume that it’s a zero sum game, which means that if someone is getting “more”, then someone else is getting “less.” While we can’t control all of the factors involved in making a sale, we can certainly address the person we see in the mirror each morning. Taking stock of our own inventory of skills and attributes is what’s at stake here.
Be as objective and honest about where you stand and what you can do in each of the following four areas. Setting realistic and achievable expectations is key! Chances are that you’re not going to be able to change what you’re selling, or how much you can charge for it. We need to turn the camera inward as well as outward for this exercise to make a meaningful difference in how we perform.
1. What should you be doing much better than your competitors?
This is probably a common question that you ask yourself from time to time. Let’s assume that you have a pretty good idea of how they’re performing. (If you don’t you certainly should!) It shouldn’t be difficult to define the opportunity here to “raise the bar” on specific skills that will simply make you better than your competition. Come up with a short list and execute on them systematically!
2. What can you do that your competitors aren’t doing?
This one is a bit more difficult. We assume that every salesperson operates under almost identical “rules of the road.” Therein lies the opportunity—unlike other professions, sales gives you plenty of room to define how you do your job. “Unique” is the goal here. If you really think hard, you can come up with one or more things that you can do that will totally set you apart in the hearts and minds of your customers and clients. It doesn’t have to be terribly complex; it just has to be positively different!
3. What should you do less of than your competitors are doing?
This is an opportunity to escape the trap called “well that’s how everybody does it.” Far too often, clients and customers can’t tell their salespeople apart because they all operate in the same fashion. For example, in this digital age, customers and clients are deluged with “email blasts” from salespeople trying to get their message across. The sender feels as if they accomplished something and the recipient is burdened with yet another email to process. Chances are that sending fewer emails with more compelling content will win. If you’re doing a lot of something because you think your competition is doing more of it, that’s probably a tell-tale sign…
4. What should you stop doing that your competitors are doing?
This is probably the toughest maneuver. It requires us to make a serious commitment to eliminating something from our toolbox that others will keep on using. There’s no room for guesswork here. Asking trusted customers and clientele is the way to go—after all they are the ones who will be able to give your valuable insights and who will also benefit from you curtailing whatever they happen to suggest. Quite frankly, they will probably be glad that you asked that question. If it’s a reasonable answer than can be embraced by you, the positive effects are almost immediate. Not only are you the one that asked for some enlightenment, but also more importantly you’re the one who had the guts to act upon that critical information!
Asking the right questions will always help lead you to the right answers! Just be honest with yourself, and don’t come up with answers that require unrealistic solutions. You still must play within your own abilities, and recognize constraints of your product, your company, and the market. That said, there’s still a huge opportunity to stand apart from your competitors!
About the Author
Buff Parham is a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.
Buff believes that hard work matters and that raising the bar and having greater expectations tend to generate greater results. In his spare time, Buff finds cooking and playing golf to be two of the best therapies for a somewhat hectic existence!
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Steve Bookbinder
Steve Bookbinder is the CEO and sales expert at DMTraining. He has delivered more than 5,000 workshops and speeches to clients all over the world and has trained, coached, and managed more than 50,000 salespeople and managers. Steve continuously refreshes his training content to reflect his latest first-hand observations of salespeople across industries and regions. Through him, participants in his workshops and coaching sessions learn the best practices of today’s most successful sellers and managers across industries. Steve understands that sales is a competitive game. To outperform competitors and our own personal best results, we need to out-prospect, out-qualify, out-present and out-negotiate everyone else, not merely know how to sell. Through his specialty programs in Pipeline Management, Personal Marketing, Great First Meetings, 2nd-level Questioning, Sales Negotiating, and Sales Coaching, Steve trains sales teams to master the skills they need to overcome the challenges they face in today’s world… and keep improving results year over year.