Competing For Sales

Most sales processes that are used today have the essence of competition at their core. Businesses find themselves competing against each other and sometimes even against their clients. Competition is seen as the normal way of doing business in an era characterized by commoditization. The commoditization trap that many businesses find themselves in is causing them to lower their prices while the cost and complexity of doing business increases. Shrinking profits and lower margins create a fear-based mentality that pushes competitiveness to a new level. Closing the deal quickly becomes more important than offering real value to the client. This Competitive Sales Process that most people are trained to use does not honor your innate ability to develop trust and create a meaningful encounter with prospects/clients.

Many people tend to invest tremendous amounts of time and energy in giving away all the knowledge they have accumulated over the years. They give it away for free and find themselves jumping through hoops trying to win over the client, overcome objections, deliver a sales presentation, and create a proposal, only to then have a 50-50 chance of getting the sale. The whole sales process can be extremely disheartening and de-motivating when you give away invaluable market information in the hope of setting yourself apart from the hordes of competition believed to be out there lurking in the shadows. This mentality that makes you want to give away your knowledge for free as a way to stand above the competition is based on fear. The salesperson becomes increasingly frustrated at the cycle of giving and getting nothing back. When fear (of decreasing returns and of not getting the sale) is the motivating thought force behind an activity, the results will be the same as that from which they came. The Universal Law of Attraction shows us that a mentality focused on lack breeds lack.

The Competitive Sales Process creates an unequal relationship between the buyer and the seller. The buyer often expects a deeper commitment on your part without feeling the need to reciprocate. They have become accustomed to salespeople scrambling to make the sale with the hope of differentiating themselves from other companies in their marketplace. The sellers are the ones who invest all their time, money, resources, creativity, skills, and knowledge up front, at no cost, in the hope of winning the sale.

Under the Competitive Sales Process that I used in recruitment sales, for example, payment was not received until the project was complete. When the candidate was hired, I got paid. There were many times when our company would do 40% to 60% of the work, only to find that the client had hired on their own and would not be completing the project with my firm. In other words, we did a lot of work and received no payment. Viewing the Competitive Sales Process from this perspective makes me wonder why so many businesses choose to remain caught in this trap when a much easier and more rewarding way of doing business exists.

The Competitive Sales Process dominates the global economy today and could be the result of the increasing complexity of doing business in the 21st century. The Internet, automation, the convergence of technologies, consolidation, and globalization are the result of developed economies doing things bigger and better, all in the name of progress. It is said that greater efficiencies, hence greater profits, are a result of the forces of competition. What seems to happen, however, is that all of this progression puts a downward pressure on businesses to create their products or deliver the services faster and cheaper than ever before. We are led to believe that the consumers of products and services want their products faster and cheaper or they’ll go somewhere else. People are plugged in to a technological buzz that is supposed to make their lives easier, but in reality it seems to make life significantly more complex.

The Competitive Sales Process is based on a very common mentality that sees people and corporations fighting among themselves to win an elusive prize. Millions of businesses are preoccupied with gaining the competitive edge. There is a whole industry based on sales strategies, psychologies, processes, and formulas designed to make each salesperson more competitive than the next. The most common sales strategy that is taught is all about “the sales pitch” and “the close.” You’re taught how to approach the prospect, and how to formulate and discuss features, benefits, and evidence. You’re taught how to ask the right questions so you can manipulate the situation in your favor. The training is usually about how to deal with objections and rebuttals and how to close the deal. Very rarely are salespeople taught how to communicate at a level that produces a meaningful encounter. This is seen as a waste of time. You’re taught to focus on walking away with the order instead of on how you can best serve the person you’re meeting with.

Instead, try recognizing that your prospects and clients are just like you. They have the same needs, the same fears, the same challenges, and the same inner yearnings. Your prospects and clients also have the same creative energy at their center that you do. Their strengths and abilities will be unique to them and are something that you can learn from, but their creative centers are just the same as yours.

When you learn to see others as being the same as you, you will have a much easier time building trusting and highly rewarding relationships. Your ability to treat your prospects and clients in a manner that appeals to their highest values as people will increase, enabling you to tap into the endless abundance of good coming your way. For a business developer, this good takes the form of increased sales revenues.

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Your ability to have a meaningful encounter with your prospects and clients creates a chain reaction of word-of-mouth referrals. The most common method people use when sourcing out a new supplier in the 21st century is their network of acquaintances. We are continually bombarded with a vast array of marketing messages designed to grab your attention and your money and have become increasingly pessimistic about what we see and hear in media marketing. Our reliance on acquaintances and people we trust to make sound referrals is how the majority of people today research a new supplier.

Meaningful encounters with prospects and clients can only increase your exposure to their extended network of acquaintances. As you continue to positively affect other people with your very presence, the effects transcend the immediacy of the interaction to people outside your direct influence. Positive, uplifting encounters have been proven to raise the feel-good substance called serotonin that is found within all people. When people feel good, they operate at a high energy level and bring warmth to those they personally interact with. A positive encounter with another individual has the potential to affect thousands upon thousands of people.

What do you get out of facilitating a meaningful encounter? Well, in the very smallest sense, the prospect or client whom you met with, the person you positively affected, will be compelled to refer you to their network of acquaintances. As long as you continue to make it your mission to positively affect whomever you are meeting with, you will draw an increase of business your way.

Terri Roulette McCartney is an internationally recognized sales expert and trainer who shares her knowledge with people committed to personal and professional growth. She has delivered more than 4,000 corporate sales presentations in the staffing/recruitment and education industries, selling over $1 million per annum by focusing on value creation. Visit her website at http://www.sellingadifference.com for TONS OF FREE SALES RESOURCES! ©2007 Terri Roulette McCartney & Selling A Difference, Inc.

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