August 24, 2020

The ‘new’ skills you will need to win in a competitive deal

Your sales methodology training, prospecting tactics and deal coaching is all rapidly becoming redundant as a differnetiator – Why, and what to do about it:

Efficient market theory and the connection to why you can’t out-sell people with the standard approach

When studying portfolio management in post-grad we discussed the idea that theoretically it should be impossible to make an economic return on investments that are outsized relative to the risks you assume in the investment (Because everyone has access to the same information) – For the most part it makes sense, yet there are many other factors that come into play; as we have discovered via the study of behavioral economics and the fact that information asymmetry still exists in certain areas. This theory does help inform some action you can take to ensure that you don’t end up losing more than you should in competitive bids.

We all know everything about deal context, so how do we differentiate?

If you are doing your job properly and I am too, then in a deal where we are competiting to sell to AT&T, we both know a LOT about the stakeholders, the financials of the business and the executive agenda:
– Linkedin gives us backgrounds, ‘CrystalKnows’ tell us psychographic profiles.
– 10K and investor publications give us context
– Tools like ClearBit tell us about people, tech etc etc

So, if we all have access to the same information, then today and for the years ahead, how will you outplay your competition? What is the thing that will ensure you know best how to amplify your strengths, suppress your weaknesses, and do the reverse for your competition?

Be an expert on as many fronts as possible.

A ticket to the game is to understand what your solution can do ‘technically’ for a prospect, but the winner is to know what business value your solution can deliver for your economic buyer. Some of you have heard me say the following before:

An executive will always take a meeting with you if they think that you know something that they need to know NOW.

That seemed obvious, but how to implement is not.

The key is tying domain expertise to solution know-how and you will win. The most important thing is domain expertise, because you likely can get a solution expert (Like a sales engineer or pre-sales expert to help you with the solution part).

Your job is to get to the top right hand side (or as far as appropriate for your sales cycle):

Here is how it played in my career:

How you win in a world where we all are equally competent in standard methodology

Assuming I work at your ideal customer profile and am the right persona: We meet at a BBQ and I start explaining some challenges I am having at work – Would you understand the acronyms I am using, the ecosystem and constraints within which I operate (regulatory, competitive, customers etc) such that without talking about your company/product at all, I would get value from your counsel? If not, then there is an opportunity for you.

If you sell to a vertical, then you should be expert in the day of the life and business dynamics of that vertical, including current events – If you sell a horizontal solution, you need to pick the top use cases and deeply understand how they convert to business value that is on the agenda of your economic buyer.

Otherwise, you will be just one of the reps who SPINs away, gets the up front contract, never splits the difference and secures a mutual agreed plan…. Just like everyone else.

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