When it comes to employing competitive strategy in key deals, many salespeople only do half the job. Besides executing a winning offense, you must also execute a winning defense by employing competitive countertactics that assist the competition in losing the deal.
Before you can create your strategy and choose which specific competitive approach and countertactics to execute in a particular deal, there are a few things you must know:
- Who are the REAL competitors in the deal (including the incumbent) and how are each of them positioned in the account?
- Who are their sponsors, supporters, and partner allies in the account?
- What is their strategy in this particular deal, including their value proposition?
- What are they saying about you and your approach in the deal, and how are the key client decision-makers and influencers receiving that message?
The BIGGEST mistake salespeople make around competitive strategy, besides not being deliberate in their approach, is assuming that specific competitors behave and sell the same way every time based on what you have seen in other deals. EVERY salesperson sells differently—even in your own company, so we should expect the competition to sell differently in different deals.
Sun Tzu said it best in his book The Art of War, “The key to victory is not defeating the enemy, but defeating the enemy’s strategy. Therein lies his vulnerability.”
To ensure you can truly exploit your competitor’s vulnerability, it is critical that you first create your own base of support in the account. Partner Allies and Supporters will share with you what is REALLY happening in the account, and will help guide you and support you in winning.
Only then are you in a position to choose the right competitive approach and countertactics to help advance your deal.
Whether you ultimately choose a frontal, flanking, fractional, or forgo competitive approach, with countertactics designed to deflate, expose, or trap your competition, it is critical that you execute both a competitive offense and defense to win key deals. Anything less leaves you vulnerable to your competitors and their strategy to win.
Identify a current deal where you are concerned about your competitive position. Leverage your relationships to gain insight into the competitive landscape. Determine the best competitive approach and countertactics, and create a plan to execute them.