When the Next Step Involves Your Competition (Tough Medicine)

Are you ready for some tough medicine?  Sometimes the next big step in a prospect’s evaluation process is to evaluate alternative solutions.  Guess what?  This step in their buying process doesn’t generally involve you.

Maybe Not The Advance You Were Hoping For…

Helping a client evaluate alternatives is not an an advance most sales professionals would generally seek.  However, if the prospect is truly going to evaluate other alternatives, then our sale may be stalled until that step can take place. Understand and embrace the fact that evaluating alternatives is a key part of our prospect’s buying process.

Rather than fight this—help them with it.

Help Your Client Evaluate Alternatives

You don’t need to schedule your competition’s presentation—that’s going too far. However if a prospect is considering using their own internal resources to solve a problem, I have found it helpful to facilitate an internal meeting to evaluate the scope and practicality of an internal solution—because the opportunity will be stalled until they complete their evaluation of alternatives. You may never have to do this, but it does illustrate how to take into account your prospect’s evaluation process and planning your advances around that.

Not Every Competitor is Direct Competition

Competition

Another important thing to consider is that not all alternatives will involve direct competition. Clients may choose to buy a solution or service to solve a problem or they may consider solutions that don’t involve buying anything. They may outsource an entire function or choose to stop doing a line of business altogether for example. You should anticipate that your prospective client will evaluate all possible alternatives to purchasing a solution and be prepared to discuss and facilitate the pros and cons of each one.

Each time you help a client evaluate (and hopefully eliminate) an alternative, you are adding momentum and advancing your opportunity.  You will find that there are many ingenious actions your prospect can take shy of introducing alternative solutions that will keep the momentum of your sale moving forward.

Be a Trusted Adviser

The key takeaway here is this – evaluating alternatives is a natural part of your client’s buying process.  Neither ignoring it nor pretending that it isn’t happening serves you or your client.  Be a trusted adviser and help your prospective client navigate all the possible ways they can address their goals.  This facilitation engenders trust and increases your net worth with clients.

Closing Tip:  To maintain momentum and speed your sales cycle help prospective clients evaluate alternatives.

Until next time!

James

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