Fred the sales rep pulls into his driveway after a long, tough day. “That’s odd,” he thinks. “Why is the back door open?”

When Fred goes in, his home is ransacked. Everyone’s okay, but his wife’s jewelry is gone. His new TV – gone. The cash he had on his dresser – gone.

When the police come, the officer inspects the back door. “There’s no sign of forced entry,” he says. “Did you remember to lock the door this morning?”

“I thought I did,” Fred says. “But I’m not sure.”

The next day, Fred’s reflecting on his personal losses and begins to wonder if he faces similar risks in his business. Are his accounts really locked up tight? Are there a few open doors that might allow a crafty competitor to waltz in while he’s not looking and steal his account?

Could be. Open doors are easy to overlook.

Try this exercise to get a fresh look at where your accounts might be vulnerable: Think of your top three accounts. For each one, answer these questions:

  • If I didn’t have this business, how would I get it?
  • How would I find the decision makers?
  • What would I say to get an appointment?
  • Where would I identify an unmet need?
  • Those are all doors you need to close.

A competitor can get to your customer in countless ways. And you can’t prevent them all. But you can make it harder for the competition. Like a burglar, they’ll try the most obvious doors first. And if they can’t get in, they may give up and move on to easier pickings.

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