A View from the other side of the “PO” Part 3

In competitive selling, leave the rocks on the ground, you may hurt someone.

  • “Are we willing this deal?”(Regional director)
  • “Not sure, the client is still reviewing all options” (Sales)
  • “What! We are number 1 in Gartner, did you send them the report?”(Regional director)
  • “Yes, the client believes the competitor has an advantage because they align better to their use cases” (Sales)
  • “I am a call with this boss, that person has no idea what they are doing!(Regional Director)

Competitive selling comes in many flavors;

  • Business justification
  • Market cap value
  • Vendors perception of market value.

Every sales deal will have a list of competitors fighting to win the business. Think of it as 3 boats on a river all going in the same direction. Yet each boat looks the same, carries similar cargo, yet in the end there can only be one winner.

Winning a deal or winning a client?

Which is more important? To the client, winning the client doesn’t always mean you won the deal. Winning the deal, in turn, doesn’t mean you have won the client. Knowing the difference is competitive selling.

Throwing rocks at your competitors, highlighting their faults, mentioning comments in passing “I heard that they are laying off people in the 6 months, you may want to reconsider them.” All of the approaches may help win a deal, but never will a customer.

Sales people are measured by wins and losses, not always by winning over a client. Some cases, yes, winning a client for the long term is important. Products and services like OT/ICS and IOT tend to stay stickly for several years and often are rarely displaced. Most cybersecurity and information technology solutions, especially ones under the SaaS agreement with a 1 year term, tend to be all about the deal, not the client.

What ultimately drives the competitive conversation? Where should the salesperson focus from the various first days? Does losing a deal win the account?

  • Winning the client means you are relevant to their needs and business.

However, your product may not fit in their immediate business model or requirements. The market migration towards a subscription based purchasing model gives the client immediate acquisition power while creating a net-new option at the end of the term. Truth is, technology changes, companies change course, and people leave and more on to the next great adventure. Clients know this.

Truth be told:

  • Many clients may acquire a solution to help with their career development.
  • Often clients will purchase the same solution as their peers.
  • Procurement departments squeeze out the best deal knowing the vendor needs the deal.
  • Reseller partners will hedge their bets and offer all three “boats” to the client instead of sticking with one.

Knowing all of this, why would a sales person “throw rocks and mud?” Winning the deal is great for people that want to be measured for that success. Companies with the “win now” culture will not be the same company a year from now. Clients know this.

Winning the deal by throwing in everything “including discounts, executive calls, and industry white papers” still helps win the day, but not the client.

Ultimately, competitive selling has very little to do with being “competitive.” This whole selling notion is about what is the company's short-term and long-term outlook for their revenues, investor expectations, and near-term roadmap vision.

Most technologies lack a long-term roadmap because they are not certain where the company is going. The mindset drives the competitive selling culture. Clients also face similar challenges. They could be acquired. The company could decide to outsource all IT and SecOps to an overseas management firm. They also could be laying off.

Both the client and the vendor share the same pressures and unpredictable market conditions.

They are just in “two separate” boats going in the same direction.

Three things to remember when competitive selling:

  • Be nice. Everyone knows why you are in the account
  • Leave the dirt and rocks on the ground.
  • Remember, the client is also a person. They have goals in life as well.
  • Do what you think is right, win the client, not the deal.

Until next time,

John

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John P. Gormally, SR

John P. Gormally, SR

John P. Gormally, born February 1964 in Morristown New Jersey. A veteran of military service from 1982 to 1988, serving in the United States Marine Corps, earni