Sales Best Practices:
Systematic Approach to Using Information about Competitors
By Dave Kahle (6/15/09)
Here again is one of those best practices that mark the behavior of the superstars, the Top Gun salespeople. Most salespeople never even consider this.
Every salesperson has to compete for the business. In some cases, there can be dozens of competitors, and in other cases, only one. Regardless, the Top Gun salespeople understand that the more knowledge they have of the competitors, the more equipped they are to present their own offerings in a positive light, and, therefore, the more sales they will earn.
But knowledge of the competitor doesn't come by osmosis, creeping into our heads during our sleeping hours without any effort on our parts. Like everything else in the sales professional's job, it takes disciplined, methodical effort.
To master this Best Practice, you must first decide that coming to know and understand your competitors, and thus being able to predict their actions and counter their assertions, is a good thing for you to do. If you don't care, then read no further. But if you think it would give you an advantage, then you must first commit to collecting that information.
Once you decide to do it, then the question is "What is the best way?"
I've found it helpful to create a folder for each competitor, both electronic and hardcopy. You will, in your day-to-day efforts, come across bits and pieces of information about your competitors. One customer will share a price with you; at another, you'll see a sell sheet with a competitor's business card stapled to it, etc. Every time you come across a small bit of information about the competitor, take note of it. Then save those notes in your competitor folders. Periodically review those collected notes. After a period of time, you'll have enough notes to allow you to begin to gain an understanding of what the competitor is saying and doing.
And that will provide you a little bit of an edge, which will translate into sales that you may not have attained otherwise.
The key, as always, is methodical disciplined effort. Not every salesperson has the discipline, nor the heart for this kind of subtlety.
That's why this is a Best Practice of the best salespeople.
About Dave Kahle: Dave Kahle is one of the country's leading sales training educators. Since 1988, Dave has worked with over 400 companies, helping them to increase their sales and develop their sales people. He's been published over 1,000 times, writes a weekly Ezine (subscribe for free at http://www.davekahle.com/mailinglist.htm), and has authored seven books. He has a gift for creating powerful sales seminars and training events that get audiences thinking differently about sales. Dave's website is available at http://www.davekahle.com, and you can follow his sales blog at http://www.davekahle.com/salesblog.
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