In this episode, Paul shares three ways to block your competitor from stealing your top customer.
Your best customer is the competition’s best prospect. They’re going to try and steal them from you.
Work with your internal champions and gather some intel.
Try the start-from-scratch method or try selling against yourself.
This simple question will not only protect your business, but also reveal new opportunities…” What is _________ ?”
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My competitor is snooping around my best customer. What should I do?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to tackle a question that is fairly common. In fact, recently in one of our virtual training webinars, a salesperson asked, “What am I going to do if my competitor has been snooping around my biggest customer?” If you’ve been in sales long enough, you’ve experienced this challenge. We all have our top customers, and we’ve got to remember that our best customers are the competition’s best prospects. So we need to make sure that we are protecting those customers from our competitors. So that’s what we’re going to talk about on today’s show.
Before we get into that though, a quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. Andrea does a great job on the podcast. If you’re thinking of starting a podcast; if you have an idea for one; if you need some help, reach out to her. Podcasting is a great way to connect with your audience, build a brand, just have some fun. You can do it with podcasting. So, reach out to Andrea and her team. We’re going to have a link to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also pick up your copy of Value-Added Selling. In Value-Added Selling, we have a whole section of the book called “Defensive Selling.” Defensive Selling is about protecting and growing the business that you already have. Some of the tips I’m going to share with you today come from that section of the book. So visit Amazon, wherever you get your books, just pick up a copy.
Let’s get back to it. How do you protect your top customer from your competition? First thing you want to do is talk to your internal champions. Those internal champions are going to be those individuals who are raving fans of your solution. They could be using your solution. Maybe their engineer is specifying it. Maybe they’re just an influencer. Either way, they are big fans of you, your company, and the solution that you provide them. You want to talk to these internal champions and really assess the threat. Try to figure out who has been snooping around, what they’ve been offering. So gather some intel from them. They’re happy to share this information.
In fact, I remember an old colleague of mine. We still work together. He had great relationships with his customers, and he was constantly working with his internal champions. And his internal champions would routinely share competitive information with them. If the competitor came by and dropped off a proposal or a quote, he would share the information with him and say, “Hey, this company is trying snoop around. They’re trying to come in here and you need to do something.” And they would feed him information. That’s the value of internal champions. They provide you that information. So keep building those relationships up with that group. And then also just figure out, who’s trying to come in, what they’re offering. Just gather some basic data.
The next thing you want to do is start from scratch or sell against yourself. I’ll explain both of them. Starting from scratch means you talk to your existing customer and you just ask them, “Hey, if we were starting from scratch, if we were rebuilding our solution right now, given the current environment, given the challenges that you are facing. what would that solution look like?” What you’re doing is you’re giving the customer an opportunity to tell you what they would like to change, how they would like to improve. We call that starting from scratch. It’s a very powerful-powerful question. In fact, one software company I was working with, they asked this question and the way they asked it I think really generated a good discussion. And how they prefaced it, they said, “You know, regardless of the solution that we currently have, regardless of who designed it, of who brought it in, you have been using the same solution for several years. If we had to start over today saying the solution that you have right now is no longer available, what would the ideal solution look like?”
And so what that SAAS seller really did is that they painted a picture. They painted a picture for the buyer to think about. “If what we have is gone, what would the new solution have to look like?” That’s what we mean by starting from scratch.
Now, another way you can do this—this one is a little more indirect. We call it selling against yourself. Imagine that you worked for that competitor that is snooping around. That same competitor that’s been snooping around. They’re sharing their information. They’re bringing price quotes, they’re bringing data, they’re bringing doughnuts, all that good stuff. Imagine that you were selling for them for a moment. View the world through their eyes. View your solution through their eyes. What are some of the holes that you have in your solution? What’s missing from your solution? If you were selling against yourself, what weaknesses would you highlight? And also, what strengths would you promote? So think about that. That’s going to show you where you are vulnerable.
So again, the first thing we do is we talk to those internal champions. Second thing is we either start from scratch or we sell against ourselves.
And then, finally, we need to ask what’s missing broadly within the organization. We don’t want to just go to our key decision maker and say, “Hey, what’s missing from our current solution?” They might not know the answer. We need to dig deeper into the people actually using it, specifying it, recommending it, living in it, breathing in it. We need to know from them what is missing. So work with different decision makers, different influencers, those internal champions, and ask them what is missing.
In a recent training seminar, one seller did this perfectly. He was going in to present a new project that he had been working on for his customer. Ss he was there, he spent some time talking to other operators within the facility and he asked him, “Hey, so what’s going on? What challenges you’re facing? What’s missing our current solution?” And he was able to come up with new opportunities. Opportunities that he did not know existed before. He was much better off finding those new opportunities than his competitor that had been snooping around.
Again, all you’ve got to do is you’ve got to talk to your internal champions. Ask them who’s been snooping around. Get some intel; get some information. Start from scratch, which means you talk to your customer and you say, “Hey, if we were to just start over today without anything that you currently have, what would that new solution look like?” That’s starting from scratch. And you want to sell against yourself? Imagine that you’re selling against yourself as the competitor. What holes can you find? And then finally, ask what’s missing broadly throughout the entire organization. Remember that every new person you meet is a new opportunity. Different people have different perspectives. The more you learn, the more knowledge you gain, the more value you can create for your customer.
Make it a big day.