Updated: Jan 20
I was at #TechX19 event in Sydney and I went to one of our competitor's booth and asked the marketer lady: "How is the business?" Surprisingly, she replied back to me: "Great. What is your business and what do you do?!!" I was shocked by the fact that she is a marketer and does not know who is their competition!!
This was a shocking moment in my career as one of our main competition, could not recognize our work and the worst part, she was a marketer. There is absolutely no doubt that marketing is driving lot of competition materials and documents. However, this is not the end of it. I personally believe we, as marketers and salespeople should live the competition.
Many business leaders in the field believe that you should only focus on your own strengths and do what is right for your business. Not completely ignoring your competition, but not focusing on them either.
I have a different take on the matter. We, as sales and marketing pros, must live competition. If you want to be a true trusted advisor, you should know exactly what other players in your space are up to. What they are doing well at the moment and where they are weak. Once you know the exact areas of weakness, you can plan your attacking strategy and plan to play by your strength. However, from end user and customer perspective, you should be able to maintain a level of "coolness" and confidence as well.
You must be able to control your feelings when it comes to head to head comparison of your products and others.
There are several rules when it comes to playing fair against your competition. Here are the rules:
1. Establish your self as trusted advisor
When it comes to building your personal brand in technology b2b space, nothing beats becoming a trusted advisor in your market. You want to position yourself as expert in your field, both from technical and business perspective. You should put your focus on educating your potential clients on how to become better at what they do. You are not going to an opportunity just for the sake of commission, because people can see that. They can sense if you are there to make a sales or you are there to help them grow.
Care about people. Become absolutely interested in what they do and what they want and fight on their behalf to get them what they need.
This book from Dale Carnegie can be a great start. Especially for first time founders and technical entrepreneurs and for those engineers that are keen to break into sales.
2. Know your product inside out
This is an obvious one. However, you surprise to see how many salespeople do not know anything other than some high level bullet point value prop about their own products. I do not care if you are coming from engineering background or not, you must learn more.
You should know how your own products and services exactly work and can explain that with reasonable level of details to your customers. The more you know, the more confident you are and that will build more stronger rapport with your potential clients.
3. Know your competition products and even get certified
Go deeper into your competition product and study them. There is absolutely nothing wrong to get certified on their products as well. Having extra certifications makes you unique in the marketplace and position you as a life long committed learner. Plus, having those certifications in your resume may help you in your future career as well. Not that necessarily you want to join competition later in your career, but to learn in more depth about different technologies and solutions will make you more knowledgeable and position you as true expert.
4. Educate, educate and educate
Go on a mission to educate as many prospects and clients as possible. Do not settle until you cover the whole target market in your territory. Become a fanatical prospector and educate your leads on how you can help them and make them successful at their job. At the end of the day, we are not only in sales, we are king makers and our number one priority is to make new champions for their respected organizations.
5. Do not mention anything about your competition
One of the key best practices when it comes to build rapport with your potential clients is to show solid confidence in yourself, your product and your company. When it comes to conversations about your competition, simply ignore them!
It is very tempting to start and talk about what you know on how their products work and how you are better. Believe me, I have been there!
However, the best way is to keep the high ground. You do not want your potential customers start and going to compare you head to head and feature by feature with anyone else. You want to be consistent source of value and new ideas. You want to build a business from the ground and by not falling into "competition" trap, you can focus on driving massive value.
Remember, this is how Netflix started to behave against Blockuster. This is exact sale behavior that Apple had against Microsoft and PC business. So, it is not a weird strategy. It is a proven way to put your focus on what actually matters.
Houman Asefi is technology sales strategist, award finalist blogger and startup advisor, focusing on building and scaling sales organization and making sure companies achieve their targeted revenue.
Contact Info: Houman Asefi
Phone Number: +61 452 219 022