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Your Toughest Competition - and How to Beat It vol 8, issue #3
March, 2011

All smart companies conduct an analysis of their major competitors, and communicate the strengths and weaknesses of those competitors and their products relative to themselves and their own products so that the sales force can more effectively sell against them.  But how many companies teach their sales people how to sell against arguably their most difficult and pervasive competition - inertia. Very few, in my experience.

Four centuries ago, Isaac Newton determined that a body at rest stays at rest unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. That is, it stays in a state of inertia. Sir Isaac probably knew more about physics than he did about sales, but his law about bodies holds as true in our world today as it did in his back then. And while he likely wasn't referring to any particular kind of body with his law, is there any reason to doubt that it also applies to the human bodies of your prospects?


Of course not.


So let's learn how to move the "do nothing", "stay-with-what-we-have", prospect from the state of inertia he's in when you call him, to one of engagement. An example that puts us in our prospect's shoes will help. Think about what it's like when you are approached by a salesperson. Let's say she's selling a new corporate tax program. You already have one with which you are "happy", even though it's about six years old and you've never bothered to upgrade it. You've never had an audit, though, and each year you get a refund in the neighborhood of around $1,600. So you're thinking, "That's pretty good - why mess with a good thing?" Well, here's one reason: how about if you had the opportunity to continue not getting audited, but instead of getting just a $1,600 refund, you could get a $2,000 one (because her tax program is more comprehensive, and incorporates tax law changes and new deductions introduced in the last 6 years. And because her company pushes out updates as they occur, ensuring that you continue to take advantage of the most favorable tax treatment to which you're entitled year after year after year). Even if you have a well-earned skepticism of anyone selling you anything, wouldn't you at least be curious to know how this could be? Most people would be - if you ask the right question to stimulate that curiosity. And it's that stimulating question that is the "unbalanced force" that will move your prospects from their state of "rest" ("happy with what they have", or "don't see a need") to one of being actively engaged.


ACTION ITEM

Think about what it is that is unique or special about your product or service that might provide an unexpected benefit to your prospects. Then think of what questions you could ask that would stimulate curiosity and move your prospects out of their "happy" state - questions that would make them less happy (or even unhappy), or help them discover a need they didn't know they had, or an opportunity they didn't know was available to them. Start using these questions, and once you're able to move them off the dime, continue moving them from just curious to "how soon can we meet?"

Good Selling!




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