Don’t Let Your Competitors Define The Playing Field

In conversation after conversation people rail against being forced into being a commodity where everything is viewed the same and/or the whole decision is based solely on price. Of course, there are situations where it is unavoidable-contracts subject to bid, whether they are for a government agency at any level or not. A major hope in those situations is that you have some input into the specifications and that is not always a slam-dunk. In some US Government contracts, if you win the right to help determine the specs, you are not permitted to bid on the contract.

So let’s look at two situations that do not involve bids and where you still have some control over things: going after a new customer and maintaining the relationship with an existing one. In both cases it is critical that you keep up to date on how people you deal with find you different than your competition in positive ways meaningful to them. These differentiators provide a measure of protection from being forced into defending yourself against the “enemy” saying they can provide what you provide, but at a lower cost. The more detail you can inject into those conversations that support your differences, the less likely those competitors will win the argument because they ultimately cannot match what you deliver. So in going after that new customer, find out everything in addition to price that is important to your prospect. And remember that asking good open-ended questions to find out those things is one of the most powerful sales tools you can employ.

Once you have your customers and are managing the relationship with them, help them keep in mind the advantages you deliver. Keep your ears open to changes in their situations that could spell trouble for your relationship-changes in decision makers, radical changes in their circumstances, etc. Make sure you keep defining the playing field in which you are operating delivering products and services so your customers remain confident in doing business with you.