Never forget this: The first rule of sales is to never knock the competition. I’ve never don much sales cold calling in my career, so my experience was limited until I started my office cleaning company. And over the past three years I’ve learned a lot in terms of sales as a whole, cold calling and approaching potential clients. One of the first rules I was taught when I started making my way around and pitching my cleaning services was to never know the competition. It’s sales basic, yet many relish at the opportunity to bash the competitors.
Even though you’ll behave yourself when you do your sales pitch, one thing is certain is that you can’t control what others will say about you or your business. What if you walk into a potential client’s office and through your pitch they let you know something negative was said about you by your competition? Maybe your potential customer is making it up or maybe it’s true, but how can you tell? One thing is for certain is that you have to respond.
The question is: How do you respond professionally without sounding defensive?
Here are a few tips on how to respond to a “knock on you or your business” in a professional manner.
Accept the Reality
Being prepared is half the battle to successfully responding to criticism. You must accept the reality that others will talk about your business or at times about yourself in an unfair and untrue manner. That’s how certain sales people stoop low, without much regard for the other side. Over the course of your business life span and cold calling career, you’ll have ample opportunities to respond to some form of negativity aimed at your business. Be prepared and know what you’ll say in return, the last position you want to be is pondering your answer.
Good Response Example
“Company 123 is a tough competitor. They’ve been in the industry for many years, and we know this because we compete with them on a daily basis. Like any other business, if they weren’t good they wouldn’t be in the business or competing with us. I try and stay in tune with my competitor’s products and services as much as possible, and rest assured that when it comes to quality, top notch service and reliability, our company is second to none in this market”.
The above would be a solid response in my books. Regardless what was said about you, you’ve risen above by elevating yourself above the fray. More importantly you come across as a class act towards your customer, and all because you didn’t allow a comment to affect you. Furthermore, whether you use the above response or respond in your own manner, the key is to put together a response on the offensive and not come off defensive. This will show your confidence and in turn you’ll avoid a long unnecessary explanation.
Some Reasons Why Your Service or Product is More Superior
Here are three reasons I’d focus on in your response:
- Quality of your product or service
- Customer service
- Yourself and what you bring to the table through your company
Emphasize why your product or service might be superior to those of your competitors, and don’t be afraid to use numbers. For example, I generally try to give the customer a rough schedule of what I’d do during the clean if I was cleaning his facility. Next, I try to emphasize on how we can make full use of the time were there, such as possibly only dusting once a week and using the extra time to focus elsewhere. Finally, when you mention something your company offers, be sure to remind the customer what the benefit is to him or her.
From time to time you may have to deflect negative statements some of your competitors make about you or your company, but staying true to sales professionalism well never all yourself to be sucked into the competition contest of “they said”. Being prepared with your response will keep you on the offensive and prevent you from having to back peddle.
Readers, have you ever walked into a situation where you were called out on what your competition said?
Photo Credit (playpennies)