Closing Against the Competition

Edition: February 2002 - Vol 10 Number 02
Article#: 1165
Author: John O'Malley

Going up against a strong competitor takes foresight and a well thought out sales plan. Using the seven following tips when competition exists for a major prospect's or customer's account will help close the sale or get the bid, especially if you ask for the business:

Never say anything derogatory about the competition or their products to a prospect or customer. Such action reflects poorly on you and could easily alienate the prospect or customer. Let your professional actions, quality, and value deliver your message.

When calling on prospects or the competition's customers, determine their interests by asking open-ended questions. This will lead you to their needs. Ask questions about their likes and dislikes regarding resolution options, including both yours and the competitor's offerings. Listen attentively and use the information to conduct a situation analysis, and offer options to enhance their situation using your products and services as appropriate.

Know your competitors inside and out. Pay particular attention to their business and selling strategies, especially their vulnerable points. Use that information in your presentation to drive home your logical-value by emphasizing the comparative strengths of your product without mentioning the competition and their product by name. Keep it simple, factual, and focused on the prospect's interests; he or she will arrive at the desired conclusion without sales pressure.

Determine if the competitor's relationship with the prospect or customer is personal or professional. A different approach is needed with a prospect or customer who buys based on price as compared with one who buys from a former colleague or relative.

Experience is the best teacher. Learn from your sales failures by objectively conducting a Lost Sales Analysis. If you lose to a competitor, determine why and what you could have done better so that you improve your future chances for success.

Edging out a competitor is easy if you create a competitive ledge between you and the competition. You can do so by stepping so far out in the delivery of your products and services (strategic value set) that the competition cannot immediately follow. A strategic value set is based on speed, service and safety. (SVS=SSS)

Get in the habit of asking for the business at least three times on each value-call (sales-call), using more than one approach. Create a plethora of “ask for the business” scenarios. This is not trial closing, but actually asking for the business.

To reach your fullest potential as a professional salesperson, focus on making other people successful at what they do or want to do. If you follow this tenet, success is guaranteed. In fact you will not be known as a salesperson, but as a success consultant. There is a difference; so make a difference!


John O'Malley
is a health care consultant based in Birmingham, AL. He is the author of “Ultimate Patient Satisfaction” (McGraw-Hill, 1997). His newest book is “Healthcare Marketing, Sales and Service (Health Administration, Press 2001). He may be reached at (205) 995-8495 or His Web site is www.strategicvisions