Train Your Sales Team How to Handle Rep vs. Rep Competition

Finding out a competing company's strengths and weaknesses can often be accomplished by a little Googling, but a key part of preparing to do battle in the sales world is diagnosing your competition's sales strategies and capabilities. Republished with permission from Dave Stein.

When I travel to Ireland each year, one of the subjects I’m asked to cover is sales rep against sales rep competition.

chess strategyThe way I see it, there are three levels of competitive information a rep needs to know.  The first is about their competitor’s company—their size, locations, financial situation, reputation, etc. That’s all available on their website. The second level is about the competition’s products and services. Strengths are found on their website as well. The weaknesses are harder to come by, but with a network of customers, business partners, and other sales reps, as well as the willingness do a bit of ongoing research on the Internet, one can stay up with the challenges their competitors are having with their offerings.

For me, the real value is in understanding that third level—how the competitor’s salespeople sell. Over the years, I’ve found that only a small percentage of sales reps think about this, even though the impact of the competitor’s selling capabilities directly and significantly impact those reps’ income, careers, and self-worth.

Make Sure Your Sales Reps Have a Gameplan

Can you imagine a professional athlete going into a game/match/bout/race without having completely studied, under the direction of coaches and consultants with video footage, every move, nuance, strength and weakness of the opponent? What about a politician running for office? Hard to imagine, right?

I know that typically marketing, sales enablement and other corporate functions that are chartered to support the sales effort don’t provide much leadership or intelligence regarding this third, and most important, level of competitive information.  Sales people have to have their consciousness raised about the value of this intelligence and gleaning this information must become part of what they do every day.

Take a look at this list.  Ideally, we’d like to know this information about the salesrep who is competing against us in our most important opportunity:

1. Into what industries do they sell? Deep knowledge of the industry you are selling into can be a competitive advantage.

Check out Dave Stein's Blog to read the next ten items on his list, as well as three questions for sales leaders.

Referred to by Geoffrey James, author of the Sales Machine blog on CBS Interactive’s BNET as “the world’s top expert on sales training,” Dave Stein, CEO of ES Research Group, Inc., has provided guidance, expertise and coaching to companies such as Bayer, HP, Microsoft and Oracle.

(Image courtesy of Flickr user MukumburaCC 2.0)

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