How do I co-exist with other vendors?
Scenario; You are pitching to a potential customer about your service offerings, and potential customer says that he is already working with a vendor in the same space. How do I stay in the mind of this potential customer and remain an option?
Very simple answer, look around us how about when you go to the grocery store, look at the 100 of different name brands of the same type, coexisting!, blue chip, fortune 500, coexisting!, automobile industry, coexisting! the list goes on and on, First understand and accept the fact that they will always exist, and there will be some after you and so on.Just have confidence in in your product/services, I ask yourself what makes yours better than theirs, or comparable to theirs and develop a market strategy plan to keep your product or service moving forward, no matter what the competition is it will always exist, that is what made companies what they are is because of the competitions, what made who they are and where they are today, some with just slogans. Some understanding of market trends, market demands, learn what you can about the market your are targeting, it is all education. Branding if you will is a prefect start.
This is a sensitive one since you want to prise the customer away from their current vendor, but at the same time do not want to move in to pester mode. By that I mean if you keep phoning or writing to the potential client to change over to you; out of frustration they will not because they are gettng fed up with you thrusting your product down their throat.
It is a difficult balance to make, and I would suggest that you write to a decision maker within the company you are canvassing, indicating the reasons why it would be in their benefit to use your products and services - may you have a broader variety of services, or that you are closer to their site, have a better understanding of their business etc.
I know that I dislike being sold to by a continuous bombardment of calls and letters (cold calling) and immediately a fence goes up. Writng to me as an individual outlining why you think your services will be different and more to that person's needs but not over-selling can make me compare the services that you can provide against my current provider.
Tread carefully as you do not want to upset the potential client, and I would suggest that you find the date when their supply contract is due to be renewed so that you can approach them say a month before the renewal. Taking people out to lunch is no longer a good way of attracting or retaining customers as times have changed and you have no time for a dining session anyway ! As Douglas Adams put it in one of his parody novels, The Hitch-hikers guide to the galaxy, The resteraunt at the end of the universe:
"...the dolphins were often misunderstood with their displays at zoos etc catching fish and jumping through hoops, when in fact they were trying to tell (hu)man that he was actually in danger of losing the planet"
When the Planet Earth is attacked by the Vogans ( the supposed controllers of the Universe who act like Council and Highway developers) the dolphins leave the planet (it is not explained how) , and leave notes on the swimming and display pools saying:
"So long, and thanks for all the fish". In other words we tried to warn you but you misunderstood, did not think for yourselves and just threw fish at us; our staple diet.
The same scenario applies here where you are trying to secure business from someone who you are trying to poach by taking them to dinner (cf dolphins and fish -v- the businessman taking the other party out to lunch).may find that your potential client had no intention of changing irrespective of your temptation of food, but litterally having lunch at your cost. (thanks for all the fish).
I know that this is a bit an off-beat reply but gives you some ideas.
I don't think you can have an answer to your question this way, through a forum, because what we are doing here is standardizing the situation, sort of like a case study. That's fine as far as academics is concerned but in real life, things are hardly ideal like case studies. In my opinion, you need to have a few very broad rules which you try to cater to, with you, and then try to respond based on what the output is from the potential prospect. I've sold OEM equipment (solenoid valves) at $30-$50 and I've also sold equipment (6 Filter Presses with all accessories etc. complete ) for $55 million.
To deal with a competitor like the one you described, you need to have at least one area where you lead. However, If you are pitching high value engineering items with presentations et al, you can bet that the potential customer may not completely oppose a portion of their annual requirement to become open, as otherwise the decision maker will never give you so much time.
Again, in my line, I do not do cold calling -as it is on its death bed-. for capital engineering equipment high value sales. If you are selling high volume equipment- low value-replacing your competitor at a few points will hardly be profitable. Try to know about new projects blah blah blah. As I said there ARE NO HARD AND FAST RULES. If you do yr homework well on the net and invest a little time making sincere relationships, you won't need to do anything after a couple of years. My blog is more or less, on this subject.)
[ N.B.: http://salesgyaan.blogspot.in/2014/05/using-creativity-to-boost-your-sales.html. ,tells something related to the subject matter].
Disclaimer: There is no commercial implication involved here, which I want to clarify beforehand.
Great question! If you want to remain memorable, send that potential customer a handwritten note after your meeting: "Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and learn about my service. I regret that we won’t be working together however I’d like to stay in touch.” Close your note by inviting them to subscribe to your newsletter or blog if you have one, or by letting them know you’ll send them a connection request on LinkedIn. If your potential customer is a business owner with a facebook page, Like it, then visit periodically and like or comment on something they’ve posted. Don’t overdo it. Just do this as an occasional reminder that you’re still there. Finally, add this person to your greeting card list so you can touch base with a Happy Thanksgiving or Happy New Year greeting.
What you are facing here is Cutomer Indifference. It has three reasons:
- Customers don't see the need for your product or service
- Customers are satisfied with their own internal system
- Customers are satisfied with your competitor
The latter is your case. Here is a very challenging situation. Most sellers in this case will rush into highlighting their competition weaknesses and drawbacks. A major mistake because it questions the decision making process of your customers who decided to go with this vendor.
Expert sellers will study the details of their customer business first to have deep understanding of their needs and expected results they want. Then they will invest big time and effort learning their competitors and understand their weaknesses and limitations These are the areas of discomfort your customers face with their existing vendors.
For example your delivery might be faster, stock monitoring is better, servise and maintenace contract is for prolonged period, you train their staff on using your system.
It is also important o identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and if this is of value for your clients.
Then when meeting your clients you adress these issues tactfully and steer the conversation to your strengths.
I suggest you position yourself more as a partner than as a vendor- provide solutions and solve problems- add value at every stage of your service offering
Assume the potential customer will switch vendor when another vendor add value more than the previous one to the customer.
As long as you can prove to your potential customer you add more value than the other, you are in the queue. Whether you take up certain portion of the entire service or take up the full services will depend on your marketing strategies and how you like to position yourself in the market.
You can't change your potential customer mind, you help his to realise that he can stop bleeding or become better if you going to use you.
Competition will never fade away in business, and the best approach is to find out what other vendor is offering, and see how you can be more innovative with your offerings. What unique skill or service do you have that others do not have? Are you able to use it to help someone? You may be in the same space, but you are different.
[Quick case study] I used to design wordpress websites for small businesses at a very low price point, prior to moving to full time consulting and coaching. I wasn't happy with the money I was getting for the amount of work I put in. So I decided to improve myself by reactivating my coaching skills.
Long story short, I got a prospect through a referral and he wanted a website. I was determined to raise my fees, and at the same time offer more value; so I offered him a free strategy session first, and then demonstrated how I was going to design the website for him. If a client sees the value, he/she will pay your price (you have to be strategic in your approach). I closed the deal at $3,400, which was a huge leap from $500 that I used to charge.
What made the difference? Innovation! I didn't compete on price, I educated the prospect about websites (what worked and what didn't), which he was very thankful for.
In order to co-exist with other vendors, your focus should never be to complete, but to compliment their work if they do a good job and are keeping clients happy. Avoid becoming a backup plan, because you might linger there for a while. If that deal didn't pull though, learn from it and move on to the next one (no hard feelings, it's just business). The more "NOs" you get, the closer you will draw to an ultimate "YES". Keep improving yourself/skills, and give your prospects something good to think about whenever they encounter you.
All the best!
Make an indelible impression of vitality and competency and if you know his/her needs, you can "drop" that you have a lot of experience in that precise area, can possibly save them money, and perhaps give them a referral to check out of an existing client who is a satisfied client. Then quickly call your referral before the prospect does and invite them out to lunch!
Be clear on your POD Point Of Difference - so that you stand out clearly from the competition. You will be memorable for that.
Find a niche market - where you have no competition. Drill down on your market and being very specific about the part of your market where you want to focus.