Eating a competitor

5 steps to overcome a strong competitor

Signing a new client is good.Β 

Signing a new client against a big competitor is royal!

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More than just a deal, this marks the beginning of a new era. Your competitors are now dealing with a challenger who is determined to take a piece of the pie: you.

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Especially since your biggest competitors often work with ... your biggest prospects .

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Closer this type of deal, you know what it means:

The manager pays for his round - The CEO knights you in sales - Your colleagues will now come to you for advice like a wise old man at the top of the mountain - And above all, a nice bonus at the end of the month!

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But before you get out the confetti cannons, you're going to have to beat that pesky competitor. Whether you are in a direct confrontation (such as a tender), or your competitor is already in place, you need a plan.

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What strategy should you adopt when faced with a stronger competitor?

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Below, 5 steps to cut the beast.

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1. Master the competing solution at your fingertipsΒ Β 

Okay, obvious.Β 

But: Did you really do the work?

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Can you sit down, and quote:

  • Its 3 main strengths - and more importantly, all its weaknesses?
  • Who are its customers?
  • What is/are its pricing policy(ies)?
  • What is its distribution strategy?
  • Its corporate culture? How does it organise itself?

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Remember this: Her weaknesses = Your arguments.

Its weaknesses are like the cracks in a building. If you sense that one of them is important to your prospect, now is the time to draw comparisons:

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❌ "From what I know in terms of coaching, they are not very good..."
βœ… "Indeed, they are less expensive. On the other hand, the support they offer is less extensive than ours. Where you just have an interview at the start, we do a monthly follow-up with your teams. Do you think your teams would appreciate having someone available in case of a problem?

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And most importantly, identify :

  • What your competitor's customers like
  • And what they do NOT like

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πŸ’Ž F ind the checklist for understanding your competitors at the end of the article πŸ’Ž

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Well, if you have serious customers, they will do the classic benchmark on the different solutions that meet their needs. If you are well informed: you will be able to help them in this overview!

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It may seem counter-intuitive, but this strategy offers two major benefits:

=> Advantage 1: You will know the whole market - and none of the competing arguments will surprise you.

=> Advantage 2: You know exactly how to position yourself in relation to the competition, and already gain confidence points!

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In this way, you move out of the realm of the salesman and into that of the consultant - whose authority is superior.

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As a reminder, if your prospects quickly mention the name of the competition, it's a good sign:

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2. Get a clear picture of the prospect's problem

Large size brings with it a few trade-offs. Large companies often address a multitude of issues... perhaps too many. If this is the case, your prospect must realise this. Ask them:

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βœ… "How do you use the competing solution?"
βœ… "What could be improved? "

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By multiplying this type of conversation, you will help your prospect to better define his needs. Faced with a large competitor, who is often too generalist, the specialist must justify his expertise. Position yourself as a specialist. And a real specialist knows his customer's problem perfectly, thanks in particular to an in-depth discovery phase.

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πŸ‘Œ Tip: If your prospect is planning to decide between you and the competition any time soon, make every effort to speak last.

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"Be the last to speak" - Nelson Mandela

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First of all, you will arrive at a prospect who is better prepared and more aware of his problem. As a result, the demo will be easier, and you will be able to press on points that the competition will not have time to return to.

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❌ "When do you see our colleagues xx? On the 6th? Okay. I'll expect you back after that."
βœ… "When do you see our colleagues xx? On the 6th? Ok. I have an availability on the 7th at the end of the day. Let's have a final review to validate all the elements. Then you can make your decision with all the cards in hand."

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This technique, which originated in politics, is admirably suited to sales.

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3. Be where your competitors are notΒ 

Don't fall into the trap. It's not about being the best at everything. You will burn out, and like that restaurant that offers sushi, burgers, and seafood, you will lose credibility. Your only goal: to bring more value than your competitor to this prospect on this issue:

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❌ "We do it all too, and better!"
βœ… "The competition is good at this, but from what you've told me it's not exactly what you need."
βœ… "Does he have time to listen to you?"
βœ… "Do you know why the competing solution is free?"
βœ… "What problems did you encounter with (competitor 1)?"

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If your prospect is already working with your competitor:

❌ "What do you think of our solution?"
βœ… "From what you have seen, in what aspects could our solution be better?"

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Play up your advantages of being smaller:

❌ "We're smaller, but I promise you we'll do everything we can to be on the level."
βœ… "For us, you represent 20% of our turnover. For competitors, you are only 2% of their turnover. When you have a concern, we have 10x more interest in listening, and solving it quickly."

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Even better, if you are still in the development phase, turn this "weakness" into an advantage. Turn it into an argument:

❌"We're young, but we're growing fast, don't worry."
βœ… "We are still in the development phase, and our roadmap is flexible. So if we work together, we can direct the construction of our product/service according to your needs."

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A concrete example to illustrate this:

At Modjo (45 employees), we are often up against a huge American competitor called GONG (1,500 employees). This is how we handle the situation:

Summary of the arguments made:

  • "We are French" (with data hosted in France - a topic discussed earlier in the call) => Key argument in selling software.
  • "We absolutely want to work with you" => Cf: For us you are 10% of the turnover, for Gong you are 0.1%.
  • "The prospects who hesitated, and who chose us, are often because of the onboarding and support" => Classic.
  • "The price: They are more expensive + they charge a set-up fee => That doesn't exist here.

Note that at no time does Yann (of Modjo) belittle the competitor Gong. In fact, the opposite is true:

  • "They do an extraordinary job - but on this part they are less present".
  • "They do a great job".
  • "They inspired us".

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In general, you can always position yourself differently, and highlight this positioning:

=> Are you facing an ageing company? Sell the new!

=> You are a French company facing Americans? Sell the proximity - the similarities between cultures (it works for all of Europe).

=> You are facing a "classic" offer => Propose a premium service!

Etc.

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πŸ‘Œ Bonus: Finally, when your prospect brings up an attribute that you don't have, don't flinch.

Stand your ground, and surprise them by explaining that yes, this is intentional => Sell the status quo (CF: car salesman example).

❌ "We don't have this feature yet, but I'll talk about it internally, maybe in 6 months it will be! "
βœ… "We chose not to develop this feature because..."

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4. Rather than your product, sell YOURSELF

Don't forget :

  • Someone who likes you will find a way to work with you.
  • Someone who doesn't like you will try to avoid you at all costs.

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This is where we enter Intuitu: Each relationship you build is unique.

Play on affect, and use your uniqueness to score points! Your advantage as a small organisation: people naturally tend to support the underdog against the big companies. Play it American, and tell your story!

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It is the small craftsman - human, who knows how to adapt - facing the big industry, which is process-oriented and dehumanised, and which considers its customers as numbers.

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❌ "We've been around since 2018."
βœ… "We were created in 2018 with the aim of ... We started like this ... Then we realised that ... Today, we are here ... And tomorrow, this is where we are going!"

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Instead of selling something, you offer to be part of an adventure . Admit that this is more exciting. You will also have a reason to maintain your relationship and build up the intensity.

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"At our last meeting, I told you that we were having trouble signing companies with more than 1,000 employees. Well, yesterday we made the deal with Bouygues Telecom official!"

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Quite logically, we can see that the appearance of topics related to the Intuitue is largely correlated with the closing rate of a deal:

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5. Don't give up - you'll get them in the long run

No prospect is permanently locked in by your competitors. Time is constantly reshuffling the deck.

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If your prospect has signed with a giant today, that's okay! We congratulate him, and we don't give up! Get ready for the next step:

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❌ *Do nothing*

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Two weeks after signing with your competitor :

βœ… "How was the start-up? Is everything OK?"
βœ… "Does the solution fit your needs perfectly?"

πŸ‘‹ There you are.

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Once a quarter:

βœ… "We developed this feature that you might be interested in, I thought of you!"
βœ… "I saw this article on {client's domain}, I thought of you!"

πŸ‘‹ You're still here.

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One year on:

βœ… "I saw that {concurrent 1} had raised their rates, do you mind?"
βœ… "I hope you are well. I just wanted to know where you stand, and how the collaboration with {current who signed the prospect} is going?

πŸ‘‹ You're still here.

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Of course, it is up to you to gauge the frequency and form of your follow-ups. This is a phase too often neglected by salespeople, which allows you to leverage your past efforts - with a minimum of effort. In concrete terms, at the beginning of each quarter, check in with your old prospects. Even if the call lasts 20 seconds: you are there πŸ‘‹

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And if you are not yet convinced, think of all those status quo in your own company that are just waiting to evolve, but are not moving because no one is doing anything about it. Multiply the interactions, and become the facilitator of these steps: you will get them in the long run.

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Conclusion

The 5 steps to overcome a strong competitor:

  1. Master the competing solution at your fingertips.
  2. Get to the bottom of the prospect's problem.
  3. Be where they are not.
  4. Sell yourself rather than your product.
  5. Don't give up - you'll get them in the long run.

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David's victory over Goliath is the victory of agility over brute force. It is also the victory of confidence, and of patience .

By applying this strategy, you maximise your chances of winning this type of deal.

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Finally, if you fail, do everything you can to become the argument that your prospect will brandish as a threat to your competitors At the slightest misstep, you are ready to replace them πŸ‘Š

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Best,

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Cyprien - Sales Content Expert at Modjo

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Cyprien Borios
March 29, 2022
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