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About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.

Written by: Vickie Sullivan  |  July 30, 2014

How to Compete Against Desperate Competitors

Originally published by RainToday.com

Good news: your business is doing well. But some of your competitors may be struggling. Many companies are having a hard time making their numbers. And with the pressure to get the sale weighing heavily on them, some folks are acting desperate and doing crazy things. How can you compete against them when they’re acting like fools? Here are two assumptions buyers make and ways you can rise above the fray and show your value without playing the desperation game.

The Impact on Buyers

Desperation has an interesting impact on buyers. When decision makers see vendors trying too hard, they make two assumptions that hurt everyone. These assumptions put a new lens on the sales process and change everything.

First, buyers assume everyone is desperate. Therefore, what one distressed vendor does becomes the standard for all other vendors. For example, if a competitor throws in extra discounts, those discounts become the new beginning point for negotiations with everyone. Buyers think, “Wow, there’s more competition out there. We can get far more than I thought. Let the games begin.” This is how unrealistic expectations are born.

The second assumption is around timelines. Desperation creates confusion and reduces the urgency to buy. Many buyers don’t understand the true difference between desperate offers and what really works. They can’t compare the nuances. The thinking here: “There are far more options than we anticipated. Let’s take our time and make the best decision.”

Buyers will hold out either for a better deal, or the “due diligence” will go on forever. This is a major cause of the stalled sale.

Don’t Give In

A common reaction to competing with desperate people is anger. It’s easy to say to yourself, “They did what?! Well, watch this.” (Yes, guilty as charged.) While it’s tempting to fight fire with fire and argue about the details, don’t. Instead detach from the competition and get very clear about the differentiating factors of what you offer. This is a test of your clarity and confidence.

To continue our first example, when someone offers similar work for a ridiculously low price, buyers assume 1) the work is the same, therefore 2) your price is too high. The real problem is that of perception. The buyer can’t see the differences among the offers. And even if they did, they don’t understand the impact of those differences. That’s your job.

When I hear about a deceptive claim from the desperate, I switch to education mode. I have the “what you’re getting” conversation with every prospect. It goes something like this: “People can only give what they have. Your job is to make sure you work with folks who can deliver what you need. That’s easier said than done. Everybody’s talking a good game out there. For example, when ¬†you hear someone say XXX, here’s what you are really getting…” Usually the buyer will admit this conversation has happened, and we laugh about it.

Don’t Give Yourself Away

Another temptation is to outwork the desperate. Giving more free help and “perks” to match the desperate causes you to believe (falsely) that you’re more credible. The rationale: I can do everything they can do but better!

Again, the problem is with perceptions. The buyer sees not one, but two people acting desperate and assumes they are the same. Combine that experience with the assumption of “Hey, things must be tough out there. Everyone must be desperate,” and you have created a very entitled buyer. This attitude will not end with the sales process.

Instead, give what you normally do and more. Explain that it wouldn’t be “fair” to the buyer to give them less than the best right now in order to get the sale. You would rather do the full treatment later than quickly slap something together now. This is also a good opportunity to distinguish your approach from others’.

Don’t Chase

There’s truth to the adage “the faster you chase, the faster they run.” If you don’t get a response, don’t hound the prospect. Use another form of communication to confirm receipt. Follow up when you say you will. Then move on. If it’s in their best interest to reconnect, they will. The longer you stay in the game, the more you have invested. The more you have invested, the more tempting it will be to act desperate.

When a buyer disappears, I like to keep in touch by sending material that they may be interested in. Make a note if you talk about interests they have outside of work. Or send them studies and research relative to their challenge or initiative.

Example: I met a buyer at a conference, and we had a great conversation about our mutual love for photography. So, guess what I send her to keep in touch? Yep, photo essays and projects. And she updates me regarding her continued interest in working with me. I leave the door open.

Play Your Game

Times are tough for some out there. Buyers are deluged with folks begging for their business. It’s easy for anyone in that position to get a false sense of entitlement.

Remember what you have in your favor: buyers can spot desperation at 50 paces. They will either run away or use the fear to their advantage. Either way, the vendor loses. If you stay the course and focus on elevating the conversation, the sales you get will be those that are best for you.

 

Filed Under: Sales


About Vickie Sullivan

Vickie Sullivan is internationally recognized as the top market strategist for thought leaders, professional speakers and B2B professional service firms. Specializing in brand and message strategies in crowded markets, she has helped thousands of talented people outsmart their competition since 1987.