Be better than your competitor? This is how you go about it!

Marcel Hoefman | 12-06-2023

You and your competitor are both selling a valuable service. You both work for an excellent organization. Your prices and conditions are also comparable. So what makes the difference?

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Be better than your competitor? This is how you go about it!

You and your competitor are both selling a valuable service. You both work for an excellent organization. Your prices and conditions are also comparable. So what makes the difference? In many situations that is you, the sales professional. To win against your competitor you have to be better than the other. Sounds simple, but it is not easy. 'Just good' is not good enough today; you make a difference by being better than good. If you want to be better than your competition, there are a number of ways you can achieve that. In this article I share five pieces of advice that you can benefit from.

1. Read about your profession.

Sales professionals are generally not avid readers. That's good news, because it means that reading about the sales profession is an easy way to build a knowledge advantage. And believe me, it's fun too! There is so much interesting, fascinating and surprising to read about sales, communication, leadership, influencing, behavior, marketing, etc. To make it somewhat manageable but effective, I advise you to read at least one book every three months and also subscribe to a number of interesting blogs or newsletters. If you then extract one valuable insight from each book and do the same every month with the information from blogs or newsletters, this will quickly result in 16 new sales ideas per year!

2. Exercise.

It is a cliché, but still relevant: the training-practice ratio of top athletes is approximately 90-10. For sales professionals, this ratio is often reversed. Or even less. The time spent on good, effective training compares very little with the hours spent in practice. Too bad, because if you invest more time in practice-oriented training, you will get more return from your sales practice. This does not necessarily mean that you have to spend more hours in a training room. You can strengthen your skills by practicing online, with or without a colleague, or sparring with your sales manager or partner.

3. Learn from the top performers in your organization or industry.

What could be safer and more educational than learning from a colleague who is performing remarkably well? He or she works for the same company, with the same offer under the same conditions. Most top performers enjoy sharing knowledge, skills and insights, but you have to ask. Are you self-employed and have no colleagues from whom you can learn? Then focus on top performers in your industry and invite them to lunch. State clearly why and what you want to learn from them and ask if they are willing to help you. Of course it is not useful to approach your biggest competitor for this, but believe me: there are plenty of fellow self-employed people who enjoy discussing sales.

4. Don't ask if you already know something, but how good you are at it.

One of the most common comments in training or while reading an article or book about sales: 'Open the door! I've known this for a long time, heard it so many times.' Nice. But if you want to develop in the sales profession, this is not relevant. In fact, it is one of the most effective killers for sales professionals who do not want to improve in their profession. Think of good sales questions? An appealing value proposition? Get commitment? Of course you know that these are important skills in sales! But let's be honest: how good are you at it? And how can you get even better at it? And how would that help you in your profession? These questions about the application of skills are guaranteed to yield much more than statements about 'already knowing' them. Sales is about doing. So ask yourself the right questions about skills.

5. Evaluate yourself. A very effective improvement technique, but only for professionals who dare to set the bar high: honest self-evaluation. After each (sales) meeting you answer three questions in a simple note-taking app or notebook.

• What did I do well?

• What did I do wrong or what did I forget?

• What did I learn from this conversation and what will I do differently next time?

The time investment for this self-reflection is a few minutes. The proceeds? Many useful insights and learning moments that will help you improve over and over again.

You are responsible for your own professional development. Those who are always just a little bit better than their competitors are the ones who go the extra mile. A step in time, energy or money. If you make the right choices, this is a valuable investment in your development, your job satisfaction and your results. What step do you take to be better than good?


Marcel Hoefman

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