Gaining the Edge Through Competitive Selling

We have all heard that as sales professionals, we should try to be consultative sellers…taking the time to understand our customers and providing the best solutions from what we learn.

Well, I am here to tell you that all of us are consultative sellers! So how do we differentiate ourselves from other sellers we are up against? How do we win at the sales game? Who wins and who loses?

The winner is the one who is a COMPETITIVE SELLER!

So what is a competitive seller? How do you become a competitive seller in order to outsell your competition?

There is a difference between pitch selling, consultative selling, and what I call competitive selling. Competitive selling is focused on performance under pressure. To be a competitive seller, you must sharpen your skills and get even better at the things you may already be good at.

Selling skills are not something you have or don’t have. Selling skills need to be developed and honed over time to win at the game of competitive selling, no matter if you’re a rookie or a veteran. Your competitors are constantly trying to beat you at your game.

In competitive selling you take on the role of trusted advisor. Whether you are initiating a relationship with a new customer, or upselling or cross-selling an existing customer, what you’re doing is you’re trying to help them, not just sell to them. That’s the driving force behind your interactions with everyone you talk to, every single time.

Today’s buyers are more educated than ever. With a wealth of information at their fingertips, they are no longer dependent on salespeople to educate them about products and services. Just as they are doing their own research, you need to do your research before talking to a prospect or customer to figure out what value you can offer them.

Stop selling without enhancing the value. Start helping. If you can master that concept, and I know you can, I am absolutely certain you will have no problem adapting the skills needed to gain the competitive edge.

Here are a few strategies to help you focus on helping versus selling without added value:

1. Show up prepared and put yourself in their shoes. Know the facts — what are they buying and what are they not buying.

2.  Earn the right to ask questions, having a clear purpose or reason for your call or visit.

3.  Start with a rapport question before diving right into what the prospect is or is not buying from you. People buy from people. 80% of the sale depends on them liking you. So instead of jumping in and asking about their buying process, stop and ask something about them, such as: “How was your vacation?” or “The last time we met/spoke you mentioned your daughter had a soccer game. How did the team do?”

4. Avoid assumptions. This can result in lost sales, especially with longtime customers. You assume they don’t need something…don’t want something…won’t buy something…because they didn’t want it or need it in the past. You shouldn’t assume nothing has changed in a year, or three years, or more. Avoid assumptions and just ask!

5.  Have a plan! You can’t script a conversation, nor would you want to. But you can have a plan for the first three questions to ask as you transition into business conversations. You create the flow!

As they say: “Amateurs wing it…professionals plan it.” None of us can afford to wing it in today’s competitive market. Have a solid plan with measurable results. Execute that plan and be the first one to cross the finish line.

Make 2019 a winning year!

ETIQUETTE CORNER:
Ready for Take-Off?

Air travel can be more stressful than enjoyable these days, as I know from personal experience. However, getting in the right mindset for your next flight just might help.

Here are a few tips regarding airplane etiquette:

1. Chill when it comes to delays and cancellations. No one likes them. Sometimes we may even feel like the airlines are doing it on purpose so we can’t get to where we want to go. But remember…these things are NOT the reservationists’ fault. Keep in mind; you are at their mercy. If you are rude and nasty to them, what makes you think they will help you? Take a breath, smile, be nice and you might be surprised how they can get you on that “full” flight that is leaving within the next thirty minutes!

2. Organize your carry-on stuff. Before boarding the plane, take a few minutes to organize yourself. Instead of waiting until you are seated to pull out your book or electronic device or dig for your glasses or water bottle, do it before your group is called. Place the items you know you want to access in the top part of your bag/briefcase or hold them in your hand. This way you will get out of the aisle quickly to let others pass and be able to settle into your seat more easily.

3.  At least say “Hello.” Whether you are the first or last to sit in your row, avoid the temptation to avoid eye contact and be silent. This is just plain rude. You will be sitting close to this person for a period of time. The least you can do is acknowledge that you’re temporary neighbors. You certainly do not have to have a long conversation. Just a simple “hello” is a kind gesture.

4.  Don’t get all huffy-puffy. If you picked the aisle seat because you want a bit more room, don’t get offended when someone next to you needs to stand…for whatever reason. You are not the gatekeeper! The person who is stuck in the middle or chose the window seat doesn’t want to bother you, but there is no way to avoid it. So instead of getting all huffy-puffy, let them know it is perfectly okay and stand to let them through.

5.  No personal grooming at your seat. You did not just sit down in a swivel chair at a salon or a barbershop. Space is incredibly tight and when someone starts to fix his or her hair…not to mention put on perfume or cologne, lather lotion all over, or pick out lint from between their toes…the space closes in even more. Don’t even think about it. It is rude and even gross. Wait until you get into the airport terminal and go to the restroom to do your grooming. Putting on chapstick is okay, but a full facial is not.

The next time you fly, think about your fellow passengers. Air travel is not as pleasant as it used to be, but with a little effort we can make the skies tolerable — and even friendly — for everyone. Safe travels to you!