Recently, I was talking to a client about a key sales challenge they’re facing: dislodging long-standing, entrenched competitors who “own” the account.
My client has a better solution. It does a whole lot more for their prospects. Plus, it costs less and is easier to use. You’d think it would be a no-brainer to go with them.
It’s not. In fact, it’s downright tough for them to wrest the business away from that incumbent. In many cases, they get dismissed right away on their initial connection with statements like, “We’re happy with our current provider” or “We’re not planning on making any changes.”
And, if they do get in the game, they consistently lose head-to-head battles. How could that possibly be, especially when they’re better and cheaper?
Here’s the deal:
First off, no one in the company is making a big stink about the incumbent, even though it’s not perfect. They’ve learned its weaknesses and worked around them.
Plus, switching is risky. It’s liable to get people upset because their old ways, their autopilot, isn’t working. Plus, they have learning curves to go through, which are never fun. And, they’re crazy busy. With everything else on their plates, prospects are loathe to take on more.
That’s the incumbent advantage
In U.S. politics, over 90 percent of incumbents get re-elected to the House of Representatives, even if they’re lousy.
So that’s what you’re fighting. Dislodging long-standing incumbents requires a different strategy. You can’t win going head-to-head with them. You have to sneak in under their radar screen, using what I call the “Augmentation Strategy.”
To do that, you need to take a good hard look at your competitors. Everyone has some weaknesses. Also, there may be some missing links in their offering that you can exploit.
Figure out your sales strategy
When I started my own company, rather than go head-to-head against the big sales training firm’s, I identified a gap. They didn’t do sales training on product launches. It wasn’t as scalable or profitable as turnkey training programs.
For me, however, it was a gold mine. It was also a foot in the door. Once I’d established my credibility, I started picking away at my competitors. Little by little, I became the resource of choice.
The Augmentation Strategy works so much better than a head-to-head confrontation with an incumbent. You start with a little win and then expand.
Give it a shot. You’ll be amazed.
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