Lessons from the Trenches The 3 Most Common Ways We've Seen Competitive Deals Won and Lost

Competition is fierce. What separates winners from losers? We often think of quality, price, functionality and other factors related to a product that makes or breaks a deal. However, how customers perceive the salesperson has just as much, and sometimes more, to do with what vendor they choose. Selling style and making a personal connection to clients is just as important as the quality of the product you are selling. We narrowed down three top behaviors that can win or lose a competitive deal. How are you perceived by clients and prospects?

1. Do Not Avoid Competitors

Red flags immediately go up when you walk in bashing your competitors. You don’t have to bring them up, but don’t avoid them like the plague either. If a prospect mentions a competitor, be honest about them. Prospects will know immediately if you are trying to discredit a competitor, and you’ll just end up raising their curiosity.

Instead, acknowledge your competitor’s strengths. Reframe your solution’s strengths as a way that better addresses the prospect’s specific pain points.  Have a goal of earning the prospect’s trust, helping them view you as a reliable resource, instead of a smooth-tongued salesperson. Here are a few examples of how to do this.

  • Differentiate your product without discrediting the competition. You might say something like this: “Company X has a great product. Many clients that have evaluated both solutions find that our product makes accomplishing [insert pain point] much easier because it offers this unique functionality.” Stick to the benefits of your product, not the inefficiencies of your competitor’s solution.   
  • Don’t give the impression you are stealing them away. If you are working with a prospect that is already a client of your competition, just getting the opportunity to show a demo can be a challenge. Try saying something like this: “I’m not looking for a commitment today. I’d just like the opportunity to show how we’ve provided added value to our current customers in your industry.”
  • Ask what they like about your competitor. Sales is all about getting to know the customer’s likes, dislikes, passions and pain points. If they tell you they are considering your competitor or are already a customer, ask “What do you like best about working with them?” This approach shows an attractive humble attitude, displays personal interest and helps you gather critical data on what’s important to your prospect. Most likely, they will share something they don’t like in addition to the things they do like. 

2. Bond with Your Prospects

The more you put in, the more you get out. Focus on long-term relationships instead of simply checking off boxes in your CRM. Sales reps must connect with individuals beyond trying to sell the product. Move the conversation forward by going deep with your prospects.  Forming a genuine bond should be your goal. That’s not something you can fake. To bond with a prospect, you must be a good listener. Understand what’s important to them. Focus on having conversations, not giving sales pitches. Additionally, try these tips to build a long-lasting bond.

  • Solicit feedback. Being a good listener often means soliciting opinions. Many prospects may be reluctant to share too much. Ask viewpoint questions to find out exactly where you can add value.
  • Uncover their personal interests. Bonding happens over similar interests and shared experiences. Without getting overly familiar, make note of comments made about family, pets, vacations, hobbies and other personal interests. Social media offers a great opportunity to gain insights on personal interests without having to even ask. 
  • Add value immediately. Find ways to add value before the prospect signs up. This might be offering free advice for a problem, helping them make business connections or simply passing along a link to a blog they might enjoy. Learn more about effectively using content to add value for your prospects and customers in this webinar from Vendor Neutral. Your good deeds will leave a favorable impression, and whet the prospect’s appetite for the value you will add in the future. 

3. Seal the Deal by Partnering

Many SaaS companies are choosing to partner with their industry peers. While this approach may not work for all, it can have big payoffs for companies that share customer bases. This is especially true of one partner is newer to the market. Partnering with a well-known brand allows you to grow your customer base quickly. It is a way to gain value without using your own dollars, and access other sources of revenue through your partner.  Partnering is not a one-size-fits-all, though. You can customize a plan that benefits both SaaS companies and their common customers. Here are three common partner arrangements.

  • Referral arrangements involve simply passing leads between SaaS companies in return for commission payments. Two companies might share the same customer base and provide value in two distinctive ways. Referring each other is mutually beneficial. 
  • Technical partners integrate their technology, adding value to their mutual customers. Sharing information and working toward a common goal allows them to connect their tools to products and services their customers might already be using, turning your competitor into a valued partner. 
  • Support partners have an arrangement that clients really don’t see. The partnership really just involves the SaaS companies, although they might blend this model with a referral arrangement when it makes sense. The partnership mainly focuses on co-marketing resources, shared training and development tools, and certifications. 

Gain more insight into behavioral traits that might be sinking your deals in this recent Vendor Neutral blog, “4 Big Frustrations Enterprise Buyers Have With Sales Reps and Sales Processes.”