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💼 Your biggest competitor isn't always a company
The biggest threat to your deal might share the same email as your customer
"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles."
Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Sun Tzu's ancient wisdom holds true even for modern startups. When facing the challenges of a sales process, startups often find themselves going head-to-head against a competitor. However, in the sales arena, 'knowing the enemy' often extends beyond obvious market competitors, encompassing less visible, but equally formidable obstacles.
When startups begin to scale their go-to-market function, they typically create “battle cards” for the sales team. These battle cards have information on potential competitors, such as pricing comparison, feature differentiation, and customer pain points. They’re the important talking points needed to win a customer evaluating several solutions.
Providing your sales team with the right tools is essential for success. However, a critical aspect often overlooked is that deals aren’t only lost to competitors. There are other potential obstacles in the sales process.
For many startups, the biggest competitor isn't another company at all but rather the customer's existing, cobbled-together internal solution. These scenarios can be uniquely challenging for several reasons. The prospect already has something working (albeit poorly). And because they’re maintaining the system, they may not have a good idea of the total cost of ownership (including labor and time). Furthermore, remember there's often an attachment to the existing DIY solution. These stakeholders, having invested time and energy, might resist change. Successfully demonstrating your product's superior value is key to winning these individuals over.
Other times, the procurement process can be your biggest enemy, especially when working with large or heavily regulated enterprises. Finding an internal champion early to guide your team through the purchasing process is vital in these sales processes. Your sales team needs to understand how to equip this champion with the justifications required to navigate a complex procurement and contract negotiation process while keeping the buyer highly interested and excited about your solution. Recognizing and addressing the procurement process as a potential 'enemy' is crucial for victory. Your 'battle cards' should not only focus on competing companies but also suggest strategies for navigating these organizational hurdles for different customer types.
While battle cards typically highlight tangible elements like features and functionality, intangible aspects can be equally important. Arming your sales team with qualitative talking points to navigate common deal pitfalls will significantly improve their chances of closing the sale.
It's not just about winning against competitors - it's about winning over each and every barrier to the sales process. In the world of enterprise sales, unseen competitors are commonly the most formidable. Recognizing these competitors and preparing to face them head-on is crucial to repeatedly winning the sales battle.
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