CompetitorsIf I was to ask who your biggest competitor is, you’d probably ask ‘”What do you mean by ‘biggest’? Size or cost?”

In other words, you are determining who your biggest competitor is by the amount of business they take or by the size of their business in general.

That’s a common answer. When we think of our competitors, our minds go to those companies or people who are in the same line of business as us, or who sell to the same type of companies as we do. You may have one major competitor with whom you have many jousts every day, or a series of competitor companies who you want to beat hands-down.

Your competitors come in many guises and you no doubt have ways and means of overcoming objections that involve how clients speak about your competition. You may have answers to all the points your prospects make when it comes to dealing with the ‘opposition’

But, in these days of fierce competition, who is the competitor who gives you most problems?

It might not be who you think!

Most salespeople we meet have practiced answering questions about their big competitors in terms of price, payment terms, warranties, product support and the like. But how about when the prospect says ‘we’re happy as we are, we don’t need to change’?

Many salespeople don’t view that as ‘competition’. But it’s as big an objection as them saying ‘we use your competitor and we’re happy with them, thanks’.

Maintaining the status quo and keeping things as they are is often the biggest stumbling block for salespeople, as offering a discounted price or better terms or quicker deliveries, etc. don’t hold the power that they would if the prospect was actually in the market for change.

Most salespeople revert to asking the prospect when they might be looking to change, and then diarise a cold call nearer to that time. But how can you deal with this in a way that makes the prospect feel they do need to change?

Firstly, you need to identify where their business could improve. Sometimes, prospects can’t see the wood for the trees. This is where your consultative skills, your pre-call research and yourplanning all come together to highlight how the status quo actually isn’t in the prospect’s interest to keep to.

Secondly, you need to articulate these facts in ways that have real meaning for the prospect. It’s no good just saying that your product will save them money or will help them achieve more. No, you need to have proof that the solution will achieve some or all of the goals that you know are top of the prospect’s agenda

Thirdly, you need to make it easy for the prospect to make the decision to buy. Remember, your competition initially was ‘we are happy as we are’, so you have to ‘overcome’ that by reiterating how their current position cannot remain static for ever. They will have to improve production, gather more momentum in the market place, improve branding, increase margins sometime in the future. Why not start that process now? When would now be a good time to start?

What you’re trying to do here is get the choice of maintaining the status-quo as the worst choice available to them. With no pressure, you get the prospect to identify how the current position will quickly leave them behind their competitors, and that wouldn’t be good for their business.

Think of ‘doing nothing’ as your biggest competitor, practice ways of overcoming the objections that naturally come up with that stance, and you’ll find more and more prospects are at least willing to discuss what options might be available, without losing face or causing themselves more problems than you can take away.

Image courtesy of J S Creationzs at