Every time I hear that a certain large software company is releasing a new version of its operating system, I want to jump out a Window.
I still mourn the blinking green “C:/” that used to appear when I booted up my first PC. That old operating system was a huge pain in the neck to learn and use. And just about the time I’d mastered holding down three keys simultaneously to underline a word, they came out with something better. More intuitive. Easier to learn. Easier to use.
Except it wasn’t any of those things for me.
For me, it meant going back to square one. Giving up a system that, for all its flaws, worked for me. I’d figured out how to make it do what I needed it to do. I’d memorized all those clunky commands. If I switched to the new system, the time and effort I’d invested became worthless.
If Bill Gates had asked me, I’d have told him: I don’t want a new system. I don’t want to learn anything new. I don’t want to have to convert my old files, throw out my old software and figure out why my printer no longer wants to print.
I wanted what I had – only better. Go ahead and give me more features and capabilities, but make it look and work like my existing system.
When you’re trying to sell against an entrenched competitor, that’s what you’re up against.
When you tell prospects all the new and exciting ways your product can help them, they’re not hearing “new and exciting.” They’re hearing “different.” Different product. Different people to deal with. Different vendor address in the accounting software. It all adds up to a whole lot of work.
Salespeople are trained to differentiate their products and services from the competition. But when your competition already has the business, that approach can backfire. What your prospect really wants is what they have – only better. If you ask customers to change the way they work or live, you’ll need to deliver huge benefits to make it worth their while. If they don’t need to change their behavior, the barriers are much lower.
As a sales professional, the challenge for you is finding a way to highlight the similarities between your product and your competitor’s. Once you’ve done that, show off one thing (only one; you don’t want to overwhelm the buyer with extras) that makes your product better. If you can emphasize how your product is similar to the competition’s, save for one thing you do better, you can remove a critical barrier on the way to wooing that buyer away from other vendors.
Photo Credit: notionscapital
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