Let Sales Teams be the Red Bull to your Competitive Intelligence Teams

You’ve likely heard the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings.” The suggestion is that when a person drinks Red Bull, they are instantly energized to do things they could not do in a non-Red-Bull induced state. Well, the same concept is true with competitive intelligence (CI) teams and sales teams in a company. It’s easy to see how salespeople can benefit from having useful competitive intelligence. What is not commonly recognized, though, is that CI teams are also more effective when they are closely allied with their sales teams. For instance, salespeople can collect intelligence about the competition’s positioning, selling strategies, product specifics, and selling strategies.  They also are well aware of how effective the competitor’s sales tactics are relative to their own strategies. This information is extremely valuable to a well-tuned CI organization and can help that CI organization provide analysis and insight on how to improve a company’s revenues.

Sales Teams are Key to Competitive Intelligence Collection

Successful organizations make information gathering as much a part of their sales process as they do the actual sales activities. During our webinar on April 22, Ellen Naylor noted that salespeople come into contact with a wealth of information such as new products to be introduced and new competitors coming into the market. Last year Joël Le Bon wrote that “The sales force has abundant information about the initiatives and products that your competitors are planning and, therefore, the kinds of choices that your customers will be facing in the near future.” This makes sense. Sales professionals are on the front lines, so to speak, when they meet with customers, visit suppliers and manufacturers, attend conferences, and work at trade shows booths. In each case, valuable information can be gleaned about a competitor’s sales tactics, product lines, model specifications, and market trends. Salespeople are sometimes the first to hear about new technologies that competing companies are developing or are about to offer, and sales representatives can learn about service contracts their competitors are providing

Collection Sources and Methods

So, what can salespeople do to collect competitor information? The easy answer is to keep their eyes and ears open. When meeting with customers, sales representatives should listen intently about what other companies are pitching; ask the customers about the products and service plans they’ve been offered by the competition, and learn as much as possible about the customer’s needs. At trade shows, sales representatives should visit competitors’ booths and pick-up literature. They can also participate in conversations about the industry and listen to what is being said about companies, products, and new trends. When manning their own booths, reps can elicit information from visitors about competitor’s products. And when they talk with suppliers, vendors and other intermediaries, sales reps can ask about a competitor’s future rollouts, product specifications, models prices, services options, and customer demand for competitor’s products.

Getting Intelligence Back to the CI team is Critical

When reps return to their companies, they need to have an easy way to convey what they learned to the people who can analyze, assimilate, and distribute it. One way to do this is to have a designated point of contact within the CI to communicate their findings. Some companies may develop a specific type of debrief or report format that helps sales reps distribute raw information, and helps the CI department and other organizations within the company use it. An even better way to do this is to use a collection system that can keep track of those designated analysts and which can automatically route intelligence to them.

CI educates the sales teams on intelligence requirements and value

Although sales professionals are indeed those people who make the first contact with sources of information that can be useful for strategic purposes, they may not be aware of the importance of that information. When this happens, they may neglect to collect it. Ellen Naylor noted that sales professionals are high-impact people that have strong customer orientation and who are always questioning the benefit of activities they participate in. A CI department that proactively educates sales personnel on the importance of collecting and reporting information will be much more successful. CI professionals can educate the sales field about the types of competitive intelligence that they are likely to encounter and instill a resolve to collect it. It is also important to provide the sales force with feedback on how specific information was used, what decisions were made from it, and what strategies resulted from the collection effort. This feedback helps the sales force better understand their role and contribution to the overall strategic health of the company, and it will motivate sales reps to collect and report more. As I noted earlier, a process that makes it easy for sales teams to report intelligence after customer visits will help elicit information from sales.

CI-Sales Give and Take

It is this give-and-take relationship between CI and sales that allows a company to increase their competitive effectiveness: CI teams provide competitive guidance to sales, sales teams can collect new information and report it back to CI teams, and the CI teams, in turn, analyze, process, and update the material they provide back to sales. It is critical that the CI team demonstrates that obligation to the sales teams, and that the sales teams reciprocate by providing feedback.   And it also helps if your CI teams are well-stocked with Red Bull.


Four Ways to Improve Competitive Sales

Every sales deal today is really a competitive sales engagement.  It is tempting to think that a customer is only considering your product or service. But with the ease of finding out information on the Internet,  every customer is researching not just your company, but also your competitors.  The fact is that salespeople have to face competition, one way or another, in every single deal they encounter.  So why do many companies make this a difficult process?  Salespeople frequently do not have the right competitive sales tools or easy access to competitive sales guidance.  Most of the time they have to hunt this information down on their own or build it from scratch.

If this sounds familiar in your company, here are four ways you can alleviate the stress of competitive sales.

1. CENTRALIZE YOUR COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE

One major challenge that sales and marketing people face is that they don’t know where to go to for the competitive information they need.  Many companies have islands of competitive data—each business unit might have it’s own internal website or Sharepoint site; data might be stored in different people’s e-mail boxes, etc.  If people don’t know where to –find- competitive information, they also don’t know where to –report-  new intelligence that they discover, and critical information can be quickly lost.  By providing a centralized database of intelligence, you can make it easier to track, find, and process information about competitors and competitive market events.

2. STANDARDIZE COMPETITIVE CONTENT.

Salesperson Jim goes to the centralized CI website and downloads a competitive sales guide for his Widget product.  He finds that it has information about the competitors’ pricing and features.  The next day, Jim needs to know features of a competitor’s Button product, so he downloads a competitive sales guide for his Button product. However, instead of finding pricing and features, the Button “competitive sales guide” has an overview of the competitor’s financials and their marketing messages.   Now Jim does not know what to expect the next time he downloads a competitive sales guide, and his job has become more frustrating and time-consuming.  Make it easy for your salespeople to know what to expect by using standard templates and definitions for your competitive sales content.  If a salesperson knows what kinds of documents are available and exactly what to expect from the content, it will be much easier to prepare for a competitive sales deal.

3. PROVIDE GUIDANCE THAT CAN BE EASILY CUSTOMIZED.

Every salesperson has experienced this problem:  she needs to make a presentation to a customer tomorrow. What does she do? She clicks to the marketing team’s website and gets the latest product presentation.   But once she has it, she finds she has to modify it to be tailored to her specific deal.  Different competitors in a deal and different customer needs will change how a product or service has to be positioned in a sale.  Using Powerpoint, Excel, and other tools are good for communicating information, but they do not easily adjust to different selling scenarios.  Make sure your sales teams have a way to get information that can be easily modified to fit different scenarios.  Compelligence is an example of a system that allows salespeople to get information tailored to their specific deal without having to request help from the content owners.

4. MAKE COMMUNICATION EASY.

Salespeople can be a great source of competitive intelligence:  they hear first-hand what customers are saying; they know why customers are or are not buying products; they know what product marketing messages do or do not work; they hear rumors about the competitor’s products and companies, etc.  The problem in many companies, however,  is that there is not an effective way for salespeople to report this information back to someone who can actually do something with it.  Sure, they can use e-mail—if they know the proper person to contact. In many large companies, it may not be readily known who that proper person is.  Make sure your salespeople have the right tools and access to report competitive intelligence not only to their immediate sales groups, but also to the people who can make the necessary changes to products, marketing material, and strategy.  In turn, once that information is processed, make sure it gets back to sales teams so they can update their sales strategies.


3 Ways to Make Your Sales Pitch More Compelling

You’ve just made a sales pitch to a customer and left their building or hung up the phone with them.  How are they going to remember what you said, and how is it going to encourage them to buy what you are selling?  There are of course thousands of different ways to influence a buyer, but they all boil down to having a compelling sales pitch.  So how can you make sure that your sales pitch persuades your customer to make a purchase?  Keep the three items listed below in mind as you build your pitch, and you will be one step closer to having a more convincing sales pitch.

1.  Show how you improve your customer’s situation.

You’ve probably heard that you have to solve some problem for your customer.  This is true, but there really is more to it.  Saying you can solve a problem is one thing, but showing how you can improve your customer’s situation makes your product or service more compelling.  Make sure you can address two important questions

  1. What benefits does the customer get from using your product or service?
  2. What pain points will the customer continue to experience if they do not use your product or service?

For example, your customer’s problem might be “I receive too many e-mails” and your solution might be an e-mail filtering system.  However, on top of showing that you can filter your customer’s email, you could also show benefits of time savings for your customer, improved relationships through better e-mail responses, and less frustration in searching for archived e-mails. In addition, if you demonstrate that your e-mail system alleviates the pain of bounced e-mails due to a full mailbox and the potential lost business from missed e-mails, you have shown what your customer will endure if he or she does not use your product.   So it’s not just about showing that you can solve your customer’s problem.  Make sure your sales pitch also clearly communicates why your customer is better off after they purchase your product or service, as well as what drawbacks they will encounter if they do not use your offering.

2.  Make your sales pitch unique

Your customer is very likely not just considering your product or service.  Make sure that your sales pitch does not sound the same as that of your competitors.  Following the example above, if your competitor also claims that the benefits of their e-mail system are time-savings, improved relationships, and less frustration, then you might want to talk about other benefits that you can offer.  Make it easy for your customer to understand what he or she will get with your product that cannot be had with any of your competitors.  The best way to understand this is to be able to intelligently compare your product or service to that of your competition (see our white paper titled “The Art of Comparison” for more tips on that!).  Many salespeople neglect this important part of the pitch. It is far easier to know your own product than it is to know your competitor’s, but if you can get some basic comparisons done, your product or service will stand out in your customer’s mind when it comes time for the buying decision.

3.  Turn objections into benefits.

Regardless of how perfect your product or service might be, there are always going to be objections or questions that arise.  Many times, these objections might come up based on claims that your competitors will make.  A compelling sales pitch will be able to anticipate these objections and do three things

  1. Acknowledge the customer’s objection: whether it is entirely true or not, the customer has the perception that there is some limitation or drawback of your product or service.
  2. Limit or qualify the objection:  Communicate to the customer that his or her perceived drawback can be mitigated.
  3. Re-focus the discussion to a strength or benefit: If you can associate a benefit with a perceived weakness of your product, it actually strengthens the customer’s perception of what you are offering.  When they go through the buying decision later on, the objections will actually turn into compelling points in the customer’s mind.

For example, maybe your competitor told your customer that your product has a complicated setup process.  When you claim that your e-mail system helps save your customer time, they may object with “But doesn’t it take hours to set up your system, meaning that I have to actually spend –more- time to use it?” A sample response would be, “Yes, it does take some time to set up our system if you do it manually, but we offer many automated tools that can easily do this for you.” This previous statement does 3 things:

  1. Acknowledges the issue:  “Yes, it does take time to set up the system…”  : Your customer has raised a valid concern.
  2. Limited the issue:  “…IF you do it manually…” :  The problem only exists in limited circumstances that the customer likely won’t do.
  3. Refocuses the discussion “…we offer many automated tools…” : Your competitors might not have automated tools.  Now when your customer thinks about time to set up the system, their mind is refocused to automated tools—something your competitor can not offer.

These objections can be discovered through win/loss analysis, customer interviews, and even by reading online reviews of your product or service.  Of course, you won’t be able to anticipate every objection that comes up, but if you are aware of the most common ones it will help you eliminate some obstructions to the sales process.


Use Competitive Positioning to Close Doors on Competitors

Imagine this scenario:  you are a salesperson having a drink with a friend who works for a competitor.  Your friend is also a salesperson, and is lamenting how every time she approaches a potential client’s office, she sees a “No solicitors, please” sign on the door.  So she turns away and heads to the next lead on her list, only to find the same situation.    You feel sorry for her and suggest that she might be approaching the wrong type of customer, and you ask whom she has visited recently.  She lists several company names, and to your amazement, they are all clients that you were successful within the past few months. However, you had no trouble and never experienced the “No Solicitors” sign.

This scenario would be unfortunate for your friend, but wouldn’t it make your job as a salesperson much easier?  It would suggest that you effectively found a way to block the competition from entering your deals.

If you fully understand how your competitor is going to approach a deal, you can disarm their positioning before they even arrive at your customer.  This is assuming, of course, that you get there first.  If you arrive at a potential customer’s door after your competition, you may have a little more of an uphill battle, but it can still be achievable if you know what your competitor’s strategy is.  Having effective competitive positioning is one thing that will help bring the scenario above to life.

One of the challenges between marketing and sales in many companies is that marketing teams tend to focus more on how they market their own product, and they leave their sales teams blind to the competition.   When first meeting a potential client, it is incredibly useful to understand how competitors are going to try to position themselves.  If you know what they will claim are their advantages, as well as how they might try to de-position your product, you can set a bias in the customer’s mind before you even finish your discussion with him or her.  That bias is what will turn into the “No solicitors, please” sign on the customer’s door.  Selling isn’t just about convincing your customer that you have the best solution to their problem, but it also involves proving to them why the competitors do not have an adequate solution.  This doesn’t mean you have to bash your competition.  In fact, with the proper competitive positioning guidance, a skilled salesperson can set a customer’s bias against the competition without ever mentioning the competitor’s name.

Our recent white paper titled “Creating Effective Competitive Positioning” (which can be found here) provides a methodology of how to come up with material that will prepare your sales teams to set that bias with the customer.  It defines a process of evaluating your own positioning as well as that of your competitors and gives tips on how to keep the material updated and relevant.

So next time you visit a potential client, make sure you have an effective competitive positioning strategy.  When you leave their office, you can turn around and see that “No Soliciting” sign go up just before your competitor walks in.


“It Won’t Happen To Me”: Optimism Bias and Competitive Intelligence

I remember when my 16-year-old daughter got her driver’s license.  She took her lessons, practiced on the road, and passed the test.  Thrilled at her success and potential for independence, her demeanor about driving quickly changed.  The cautious girl behind the wheel that I gave lessons to only a few short weeks prior, suddenly, apparently, was granted knowledge of everything there is to know about safe driving.  “I don’t need to buy insurance because I won’t get in an accident!”  “I’m very careful so there’s nothing to worry about.”  Those of you with teenagers are probably familiar with this scenario.  All the warnings in the world about safe driving techniques and accidents couldn’t deter her. She had the “It won’t happen to me syndrome.”  Of course, several weeks later she got in her first fender-bender and was dumb-found on how it could have happened.

I was reminded of this story recently as I was having lunch with an old colleague.  He is a Senior Director of Competitive Intelligence at a large, publicly traded company.  He has done quite well there, building a reputation of really knowing about the competitors, and has earned a seat at the executive staff meetings.  For several months, my friend’s team had collected intelligence and built reports showing that a competitor was developing a new product and marketing strategy that would drastically alter the competitive playing field. The competitor developments essentially would nullify the current plans that my colleague’s company was working on. He presented the intelligence at meetings in the form of scenario analysis, competitor updates, and via other methods.  He had evidence to show the progress of the competitor’s events.  He had effective data showing the likely outcomes of the threat.

So what did his company do?  As anyone in the competitive intelligence field likely knows, the company did absolutely nothing.

Why?  Because the executive team took the “it won’t happen to me” approach.  This is simply basic human psychology.  When presented with a likely threat, it is much easier to say “I’m smart enough to prevent it from happening,” or “I’ll be able to avoid that situation.”  We do it every day, in and out of business.  It frequently is our default response to a threat.  There’s even a term associated with it: “Optimism Bias.

I hear the statement over and over again in the competitive intelligence field “My executives don’t listen to me!”  But that’s not quite right.  Your executives do listen to you.  They just choose to not act.  This is the comic flaw in the competitive industry: strategic competitive analysts spend their cycles doing research, producing reports, presenting evidence, and getting few results.

Don’t get me wrong—this doesn’t mean competitive efforts for strategic purposes is wasted.  There are countless examples of where competitive intelligence reports are very successful and executives do pay attention. It just means that it frequently is an uphill battle, and the competitive analyst should expect and plan for the optimism bias response.

So what –can- the competitive practitioner do? My suggestion is to ensure that your company has adequate competitive resources addressing sales. If not, then perhaps it would be an area better served with competitive efforts.  Sales tends to be a very willing consumer of competitive intelligence.  If it is done correctly, the competitive activities actually can help increase deal win rates and drive revenue for the company. In addition, it is an excellent area for competitive intelligence resources to get a real-world view of the competitive forces at work in their industries.  This real-world perspective adds to the analysis capabilities of the resource and builds more credibility for when the time comes to present strategic competitive reports to the executives.   With that little bit of extra backing, perhaps the executives can be encouraged to overcome their optimism bias.

Oh, and as for my daughter—after her third fender-bender, she now sees the value in having insurance.  Especially since she is now paying the bill for it.


Corporate Maturity and Quality Pizza

For lunch yesterday, I had a slice of Domino’s pizza. I haven’t had Domino’s in a while so I was pleasantly surprised to be reminded of how much better their pizza is than it was a few years ago. That little reminder got me thinking about marketing routines. I know what you’re probably thinking; what does pizza have to do with marketing?

We’ll get back to that in a minute.

I know that your company spends a lot of time organizing information and creating sales content (sales guides, battle cards, silver bullet lists). Ultimately it’s just variations of the same information in different formats.

I know this because just about every company works this way. If you are in marketing, you probably create this type of content because when you started your job, someone else was creating it and told you “this is the template we use for sales material.” And before they were doing it, someone else had created it and showed them how to do it. It’s like a traditional art form that is handed down to every new generation of marketing person.

But it’s never quite “just right.” Every day someone is either putting together a new sales deck or a slideshow about some product or competitor, because the “template” material you created was made to apply to several sales deals, not just one. And truth be told, there’s really no way around having to custom tailor information before it can be used efficiently.

Once you’re done organizing and framing what you know, some poor salesman is going to have to shuffle through those battle cards or skip around a Powerpoint slideshow to re-customize it for his or her particular deal. All things told, there’s a lot of time and money wasted by everyone involved in this process that you’re only doing “because it’s way things have always been done.”

Unfortunately, being the best at building slide decks, silver bullets, and battle cards doesn’t mean you’re doing the best at helping your sales teams win more deals. What you might not realize is that all of this time spent creating and reading through marketing and sales materials is a huge, unnecessary waste of resources.

You see, there is a better way.

What if you had a system that could automatically create customized sales guidance for you? Instead of spending time creating yet another slide deck every time there’s a new potential customer, you could be utilizing a system to unify all of your resources and to free yourself from creating or modifying new sales decks, battle cards, and slide decks forever.

At Compelligence, we believe that a mature company doesn’t rely on manually reapplying information, but rather they enter information into a database once, and then automate the time and resource intensive processes. This allows for streamlined communication between content creators and the people actually using the content.

We understand why you might be resistant to this kind of significant change: “But Powerpoint slides are a big part of our sales process.” We’ve heard it all before. But the reality is that growth works through change.

For a company to mature, they must find better solutions to all their needs. This is an opportunity to build real efficiency and effective best practices into your company. Doing something “just because that’s the way it’s always been done” is the best way to get into a rut.

Now back to Domino’s Pizza.

You might remember that Domino’s Pizza used to offer a deal that if you didn’t receive your pizza within 30 minutes, your pizza would be free. For a long time, this was just “how it was done” at Domino’s, because it was a core piece of their brand image. As they continued to invest in that brand, though, they didn’t see a correlation in growing sales.

After their stock hit an all-time low in 2008, Domino’s finally came to terms with the reality that their continued focus on quick delivery had blinded them to the fact that their pizza was about as tasty as the box it came in.

They could very well have poured more advertising money into their existing advertising and brand image, but instead, they decided to try to do something new, different, and better. They even did something pretty radical: they admitted publicly that their pizza was no good and that they were going to fix it.

They abandoned the focus on hurrying pizzas out the door as fast as possible.

Their bold move paid off and Domino’s is still going strong. Within only two years after their stock prices hit that all-time low of $4.00, they had bounced back up to $32.50 per share.

So perhaps it’s time for you to take some bold new steps toward corporate maturity as well.

Maybe your focus on delivering all those silver bullet lists, sales guides, and slide decks is a lot like delivering bad pizza as efficiently as possible.

Maybe there’s a better way to deliver sales guidance and to win more deals.

Compelligence can show you how.


Win deals faster with Dynamic Comparison

Wouldn’t it be great if …

…sales teams never had to wait for analysis and guidance when a competitor launches a new product?

…marketing, sales, and competitive teams could always identify silver bullets to use against the competitor?

…your marketing and CI teams could instill confidence in everyone that they know where your company stands against every competitor and their products at all times?

Now you can, with Dynamic Comparison by Compelligence.

Consider this example:  Your competitor comes out with a new product or service, and what happens at your company?  If you are like most companies, the story probably goes something like this:

A salesperson sends a frantic e-mail to an internal distribution list that says “Help! My customer is considering the new Widget3000XR-10 from our competition. Does anyone know about this thing???”  That e-mail eventually makes its way up through sales management and over to the product and marketing teams, where it gets assigned as a critical project.  Multiple people scramble to get data sheets and information on the new product and try to figure out a way to position against it.  It can take days at best, perhaps weeks in some cases to create and distribute collateral to your sales teams to tell them how to sell against this new threat.  In the meantime, the salesperson is stuck trying to find a way to respond to the customer, while the competitor is in the customer’s office showing off their shiny new gadget.

Sound familiar?   I’ll admit, it is challenging to contextualize a new competitive offering:  how does it compare to your existing products or services? What are its strengths or weaknesses?  Where does it fit in the industry? How do you create new collateral to educate your sales teams on this product?

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Now you can quickly analyze new competitor products and win deals faster.

At Compelligence, we just released a powerful new feature called Dynamic Comparison that eases this process.   It allows CI teams or marketing teams to simply enter the capabilities of a new competitor offering, and Compelligence in return will analyze that new product. It will highlight its strengths and weaknesses, and make that information available to sales teams immediately.  It can help product marketing teams identify better strategies for positioning against the new threat.  It can tell you how that new product stacks up not only against your offering, but also how it compares to the rest of the industry.  And it can reduce the scramble to create new content.  Rather than creating hundreds of panicked e-mail threads and confusion, Compelligence enables you to maintain focus in a changing competitive environment.

So change the story at your company.  Don’t leave your sales teams waiting for guidance on new products while your competitor is closing the deal.   Ask us for a demo of how Dynamic Comparison can help your sales teams win deals faster, and how Compelligence can keep your company in front of your competitors.


Increase your revenue by partnering with Compelligence!

The Compelligence platform was developed to allow Enterprise companies to win sales deals faster by delivering highly-relevant, deal-specific guidance to sales teams on demand.  Now, it can also help CI companies add revenue and value as well.  Compelligence, Inc. has formed a new partnership program that allows partners to leverage our solution.  We have 3 levels of partnership that range from simple referrals to enabling a “CI-as-a-Service” solution for providers.  Please join us to learn more about this exciting program!

WHAT:  We will host a demo and information session that showcases the capabilities of the Compelligence system, and also provides an overview of our partner programs.

WHO:  This session will be of interest to individual CI consultants, small CI firms, and CI companies that offer a variety of services and support to enterprise customers.

WHEN:  The Webinar will be on March 21st, 2013 at 11:00 am PDT

SIGN UP: You can register for this event via the following link: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E953D680814731

Please see our partner page here for more information about our partner programs.


Competitive Sales Guidance: Don’t send your sales teams on a scavenger hunt

If you are part of a competitive intelligence team or a sales team, I’m sure you are familiar with this scenario: your company has a critical account or a need-to-win customer that your competition is also pitching to. A salesperson on the account team asks the CI analyst for competitive sales help, and the CI analyst says, “Please look at our internal website or Sharepoint site—we have lots of documents that address our competition.”

Great. So now the salesperson has to hunt through many pieces of content that may or may not pertain directly to the customer deal at hand. This does not help win the deal in an efficient fashion. It’s a mistake that I’ve seen made in multiple companies: salespeople want help with how to sell against the competition, but what they get is competitive data when what they really need is competitive guidance.

There’s an important distinction here that gets missed between competitive intelligence and competitive guidance: the output from a CI team should not make more work for the consumer of the information. What many sales-supporting CI teams fail to do is to provide the distinct and customized “how-to” that tells sales what they need to say or do in order to win a deal. Sure, you’ve made sales guides and silver bullet sheets and cheat sheets and playbooks and competitor profiles, but the problem with all of that is that no matter how much information is put into them, it’s never just right for each individual deal.

I hear your objection already: “But it’s futile to try to make content that is particular to every deal. There are just too many deals!” And, you’re right. But that’s where the flaw exists in most sales-facing CI programs. CI teams, especially the ones that support sales teams, focus on building content that provides information, when instead they should be focusing on how to provide guidance that can be tailored to each deal.

When it comes down to it, the main job of a salesperson is to do one thing: to close a deal in order to bring revenue to the company. Yes, there are several other things as well, but the less time that a salesperson is closing deals, the less profitable your company becomes. If you are making your sales teams dig through hundreds of slides in a playbook, or if you are making them modify silver bullets that aren’t just quite right, you are taking away from the time they could be spending closing a deal and moving on to the next one.

So now you’re asking “Ok, so what is this guidance that they need?” I’m glad you finally asked. Your sales teams most commonly need a few specific tips in a competitive sales environment:

1. What is the competitor product?
2. How do I position my product against the specific competitor product?
3. What landmines might the competitor have set for me, and how do I avoid or diffuse them?
4. How is the competitor positioning their product relative to mine, and how can I deposition it?
5. How do all the features compare between my product and the competitor’s product, and which are the strengths and weaknesses?
6. What are the main benefits for each of the key features of my product?

If your salesperson knows all of these things, then he or she is probably pretty well equipped to convince the customer why your product or service is better than the competitive offering.

So make it easy for your sales teams. Don’t send them on a scavenger hunt when they need guidance on how to win a deal.