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Know Your Enemy: The Competitive Advantage

Posted on: March 31

Author: Tom Black
 Know Your Enemy: The Competitive Advantage

March 2010This has a great joke in it.  Enjoy!  Plus, we consider the importance of knowing your competition and knowing your prospects’ every need.  Are your competitors taking your prospects?  Find out why and how.  What do they know that you don’t?Know Your Enemy:  The Competitive AdvantageKnowledge of the competition is essential to reaching the goals you set for yourself. When I was selling books door-to-door, I looked at every competitive product in every person’s home I could find. It took some extra time, but like Zig Ziglar says, “You can’t be too busy chopping wood to sharpen the axe.”When I sold products to banks, I subscribed to 23 banking publications, and I paid for them myself. Why did I invest so much time and money on looking at competitive products and reading trade publications? Two reasons: I wanted to know my competition, and I wanted to know my industry.There is a reason that every great coaching staff in sports watches films of the competition. The great hitters in baseball watch films of the pitchers and pitchers watch films of the great sluggers.It is impossible to find or create needs for a prospect if you don’t know what those needs might be. You can get a real jump on the game if you know what’s happening in your industry. I can’t stress enough how the quality of your presentation will improve if you know what is happening on an industry level.John was the top used-airplane salesman in America. After talking to him, I was convinced that he didn’t know much about the sales process. But he did know the capabilities of every airplane on the market as well as every airplane that was for sale in the United States. He did his homework so that he could speak to his prospects with confidence, knowledge, and an ability to meet his customers’ needs.If knowledge is not a talent, then it’s a great substitute. When combined with skill and talent, it’s unbeatable. Be sure you’ve seen your competitors’ proposals, promotional materials. And. if he’s any good, know your direct competitor’s name – the salesperson, not the company (duh)!Bill Tomson was my competitor, now he’s a friend. In competitive situations, he always wanted to go last in front of the prospect or group of prospects. After losing several sales to Bill, I caught on. From then on, I preempted that maneuver at every occasion. I either went last or asked for one last shot if I knew Bill’s presentation was following mine. If Bill did follow me, I made sure the prospects were prepared not to make a decision until I had my last shot. I didn’t lose to Bill anymore.Never underestimate the competition. American Airlines told themselves Southwest Airlines was a low-cost provider. General Motors and Chrysler did the same. Now Nissan and Honda have moved ahead. Sears thought they could give up the low-end customers to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart then drove Sears to the brink of failure and bankrupted Service Merchandise, a four billion dollar company with 375 stores.How can anyone call themselves a professional if they don’t know the competitors’ products and sales strategies as well as they know their own? Don’t accept defeat graciously, even occasionally. It forms a bad mental habit that it’s OK to lose once in a while. It isn’t.To your success,Tom

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