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The Single Worst Thing A Sales Person Can Do

by Dave Brock on November 30th, 2012

My friends at OpenView Labs asked for my views on “bashing” the competition.  As you might guess, I have some pretty strong opinions on it.

To read the accompanying article, visit my friends at OpenView:  The Single Worst Thing A Sales Person Can Do!  There’s quite a discussion at the site, join in!


Interested in our Sales Management Operating System–a framework to look at the entire sales function and how the different pieces, parts fit together? Ask for our free interactive MindMap by emailing dabrock@excellenc.com with your full name, company and company email.

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6 Comments
  1. Hi Dave,

    Excellent video and you are spot on. Buyers will often set a trap for salespeople with, “how do you compare yourself with competitor X” – answering this question with anything other than “why do you ask”? is getting out the shovel and digging a hole for yourself.

    The other possibility is answering the question with a question and chunking the buyer up and finding out/refocusing on what is important to them….this is straight our of Sandler. “Mr customer, you asked me that question for a reason, would you mind sharing with me what it is you are really trying to achieve?”

    This deflects the competitor question back to the reason that might have triggered it in the first place. The only possible answer if you must answer the question is “they are a good company”.

    • Mark: Thanks for joining the discussion. I really like approach, “You asked me that for a reason……..” It’s such a wonderful way of addressing the issue and really trying to understand the customer. Thanks for the great contribution.

  2. Dave, I like your vlog but allow me to take a minor issue.

    I don’t like the word “bash.” I prefer truth telling.

    If you are a good sales person and when asked what you think of a competitor? and all you can come up with is a polite “they are a good company” is not going to make you look very good.

    First, it would tell me that you are not a fighter. You are not in a position to answer that and you shouldn’t since you really don’t know whether the company is good or not. It is better to talk about your company. This is the trap Obama fell into in the first debate.

    Second, that question is designed to show the differences that make you look good. You have to go like Romney (in the first debate) and have a three or five point answer that shows there are major differences and why you are ready for prime time (in sales, getting their business).

    It is not good enough to know your product and solution well, you absolutely must know your competitors’ products and solutions in a way you can clearly delineate the differences. If you are not doing it then you have to assume your competitor is doing it. You don’t want to risk being out sold.

    Again, you don’t need to bash a competitor with things that are not true since things can be easily checked and you will be kicked out of the account; however, you have to go little negative and be on the attack in a professional way. This is not easy, thus, so many sales people don’t do it or do it so bad that they lose their credibility.

    • Jim, thanks for the very comprehensive comment. I agree and disagree. Clearly we have to know our competition. We have to be able to position ourselves positively, stressing our strengths and differentiation on those areas significant to the customer–not significant to the competitor’s competitive positioning. Too many times, I’ve seen sales people destroy themselves talking about their strengths relative to the competition—when it’s all irrelevant to the customer and their priorities. We have to get the customer to use us as the basis of comparison that the competition has to respond to.

      The only area, perhaps wordsmithing, is the “you have to go a little negative….” Frankly, I’ve never had to do that in my career and I’ve never seen anyone forced to do that to win. Shift all the focus from the competition to discussing what you do and sets you apart.

      Thanks for joining the discussion. Regards, Dave

  3. Brad Adams permalink

    Great article and there are truths in the comments above. It is always wise to ask questions of your client/prospect and let them lead you where they want to go. Most buyers will tell you what they like and do not like about your competitors and then, it is up to you, to present a convincing presentation. Based on the buyers needs, which they have already told you, discuss why your product and service can help them fix their problem and why your product or service will do a better job of fixing their problem than your competitors. Then you don’t bash, but you also don’t talk about your competitors in a glowingly way.

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