Tag Archives: competition

You lose when you show your prospects that they’re wrong

28 Apr

Part of the sales process will inevitably include time spent showing the customer why your solution is better than your competitor’s solution. However, that’s often a delicate dance because while you want to show them that you have the right solution, you need to be careful not to tell them that they’re wrong to want another solution. Especially if the customer has chosen your competitor and is thus the incumbent in the account.

An interesting article in Fast Company discusses how the “birthers” advocates, who believe that President Obama was born outside of the US, still don’t believe he was born in Hawaii despite the recent evidence of his Hawaiian birth certificate. The Fast Company article quotes Psychologist Leon Festinger, who wrote, “”A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So despite the clear evidence of President Obama’s place of birth, many birthers still cling to their claim.

Do you find birthers in your accounts? Maybe you call them the old-guard or the technology bigots. Maybe you ignore them and hope your internal champion is stronger politically. No matter what you call them, how do you change their minds? Would analyst reports and customer references really get them to admit they were wrong? Instead, the Fast Company article felt that you need to give the naysayers a way to save face before they would back down.

Often in sales, we decide to go around these groups after we’ve shown them that they’re wrong and they still refuse to concede. Most often this leads to a lost sale. Next time, try a different approach to gently convert them to your side.

RIM can’t win for trying

23 Apr

I saw reports that the new RIM Playbook had initial sales of under 50,000 units during it’s debut.  I feel bad for RIM being forced to compete against Apple in a category Apple themselves defined.  Being forced by analysts unhappy that RIM didn’t have an offering and then being blasted by the same analysts for the Playbook as not being on-par with Apple has to be a no-win situation for RIM.  The only company that’s done well competing with Apple in this space is Google and it’s primarily because they give Android away for free.

(photo from RIM)

I wonder how I would sell the Playbook to companies if I was the RIM Enterprise sales rep.  My only pitch would have to be the standard pitch of all incumbent vendors to the big enterprises, “We’re already your vendor of choice, we’re the safe choice, you won’t get fired buying with us, our execs know your execs, our new product is good enough, think of the huge implementation costs you’ll incur by switching.”  Even some of the RIM enterprise sales reps can’t use that pitch with confidence as they’ve gone over to sell the iPhone to enterprises.

Poor RIM, they have record sales of product and no respect.  And poor me since I really prefer a physical keyboard so I’ll continue to use the Blackberry…for work…and get the iPad for personal use.

Fiscal Year = Calendar Year is a BAD idea

23 Dec

It’s the time of year when everyone’s getting ready for the holidays – cleaning the house, wrapping presents, bringing out the decorations, sending & receiving holiday cards. It’s a time to be with family and good friends reflecting on the past year and thinking about improving ourselves for next year.

And yet many of us also find that this is the most stressful time of year. Yes, retail employees and shipping clerks are swamped. Consumers are rushing to get last minute presents. But I’m thinking of all the business salespeople and their counterparts in purchasing that are just stressed out because their fiscal year end coincides with the end of the calendar year. As a sales person, I thrive on the high-stakes actions of winning and keeping customers. But when those actions often culminate in an end-of-year battle of budgets and competition that conflict with holiday time with family and friends? Not so wonderful. Wouldn’t it be nice to work for a company or sell to a customer who’s fiscal year doesn’t end on 31 December?

I’ve spoken to a few contracts officers this week and we all lament the same thing, that it’s really too bad we’re working on end-of-year deals when we really want to enjoy the holidays with our friends and family instead of being co-workers and vendors.

So in the spirit of balancing work with family in equal measures, we at Inquisix want to wish you all a wonderful and relaxing holiday time with those closest to you.

Bonne fete

Happy Holidays!

Seth calls it "intangibles" I call it "reputation"

14 Aug

I met Seth Godin years ago at one of those kids activity centers where parents host their pre-schooler’s birthday parties. If you have kids, then you know that pre-school birthday parties means “no drop-off” thus you can’t run a few errands or stop by Dunkin Donuts. I was reading his “Permission Based Marketing” book amongst the happy screams of little kids and I notice out of the corner of my eye that 2 people keep walking past me and smiling. One of them finally approaches me and says, “My husband wrote that book!” The other person walking past me turned out to be her husband, Seth. You’d think that I’d recognize him since his handsome dome was right on the front cover of my book!

I was reading this while my kid was here

Seth’s recent post is about how intangibles are what allows you to charge more for your service vs the commodity-oriented competition. Some of his ideas include participation, enthusiasm, speed, focus, generosity and hope.

Hope? No, not “I hope this deal will close” as that’s not an viable or effective tactic for beating the competition. Instead, “is your offering going to be something great.”

As I’m reading this blog, it struck me that I consider all these intangibles to be my reputation. Just like an intangible, it’s hard to quantify reputation. You either have it or you don’t. Your reputation with your customer is what keeps them coming back to you instead of saving money with your competitor. Your reputation is what gets you the warm welcome when you meet with prospects.

Here’s a few suggestions of mine on ensuring you have the intangibles, the reputation, it takes to compete and win.