How Top Sales Pros Differentiate Themselves from Worthy Competitors

Dealing with an evenly matched competitor? Here are seven skills sales pros can master to come out on top.

June 8, 2017

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Unless something dramatic happens, the NBA Finals will feature the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors. Though it will be the third time in three years they face each other for the championship, it’s a highly anticipated playoff between two evenly matched teams.

Many sales professionals can relate to the scenario of running up against the same competition time and again, or expecting to see a certain competitor in the same deals. Top-performing sales reps welcome these opportunities to best their fiercest competitors.

They know that, with an evenly matched opponent it’s more likely that their individual effort will determine the outcome. Here are seven ways boost the odds of beating your biggest rival.

Lead With a Relationship

One way to distinguish yourself is by establishing and building relationships with prospects – and other relevant connections – before you need to call upon those relationships. In other words, offer value and demonstrate an interest without asking or expecting anything return. And don’t forget this means building a far-reaching network that includes partners, existing and past customers, colleagues, and others who have at one time or another entered your professional sphere.

Your web of connections will likely come in handy, whether it’s introducing you to a prospect or helping you gain insights into an account. Plus, it’s actually quite simple to do this at scale by calling upon all the social selling tools at your disposal.

Respect the Buyer’s Time

As they conduct their research, prospective buyers want to make the most of their time spent interacting with you, your competition, their peers, and industry analysts. Set yourself apart from the competition by engaging in smart, thoughtful conversations. If you’ve done your homework, you should have a sense of the opportunity’s challenges, goals, and perhaps even objectives. Don’t waste valuable time asking routine questions that unearth the information you already know. Get to the heart of matters as quickly as possible, while making it clear you understand the situation from the buyer’s perspective.

Get Them Thinking

Because so many sales reps rely on the same sets of questions, buyers tend to let their minds drift as they repeat the same answers over and over. To truly differentiate from the competition, work diligently to uncover strategic openings during your prospecting research. Then ask thought-provoking questions that give the buyer pause. Don’t confuse this with asking complicated questions that are difficult to answer. The goal is to trigger the prospect to consider their situation from a different angle, one that ideally makes them understand the urgency and value of doing something about it. 

See the Process Through Their Eyes

It’s not easy being a seller, but it’s not so easy being a buyer either, especially when that means being part of a buying committee for an extended length of time. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes to see the situation and the decision-making process from their perspective. The more you can empathize with your buyer – and offer up ways to ease their pain – the more you’ll widen the gap between you and the competition.

Become a Fountain of Knowledge

You can bring all the charm and charisma in the world to bear, but at the end of the day, those won’t help your prospect. But know their industry, business processes, challenges, relevant trends, and other important issues, and you are an invaluable source of information. Better yet, help them understand how to best connect the dots to arrive at a meaningful conclusion, and you are truly a step ahead of the competition, which brings us to our next point…

Know the Competition

This should go without saying, but have you considered becoming the leading expert on the competition? You need to know how they are better than you and vice versa, paying attention to timely events that may favor you or them, and figuring out how to best position against them to win deals.

I’m not just talking about studying the competition from a company standpoint. It’s also helpful to understand the strengths, weaknesses, common strategies, and existing connections of the specific sales rep you are selling against.

Never, Ever Give Up

In spite of putting up their best fight, the cream-of-the-crop recognizes that they’re not going to win every sale. The key is to win more than you lose, and to buckle down and win when it really matters – i.e., when the big opportunities come along. Along the way, you need to accept failure, learn from it, and bounce back quickly. By doing so, you can continually up your game and boost the chances of winning the next time around.

By embracing these winning moves, you will put yourself on the path to earning your prospect’s trust. And in today’s B2B sales game, that is one of the first steps on the road to victory.

For more ways to train yourself to best your competition, download our eBook,
LinkedIn’s Definitive Guide to Smarter Sales Engagement.