Be better than your competitor? That's how you handle it!

Marcel Hoefman 12-06-2023

You and your competitor are both selling a valuable service. You both work for a great organization. Your prices and conditions are also comparable. What difference does it make?

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Be better than your competitor? That's how you handle it!

You and your competitor are both selling a valuable service. You both work for a great organization. Your prices and conditions are also comparable. What difference does it make? In many situations it's you, the sales professional. In order to win from your competitor, you have to be better than the other. Sounds simple, but isn't simple. 'Just good' isn't good enough these days; you make the difference by being better than good. If you want to be better than your competitor, there are a number of ways you can achieve that. In this article, I'll share five pieces of advice you can take advantage of.

1. Read about your profession.

Sales professionals are generally not fanatical readers. That's good news, because it means that reading about the sales profession is an easy way to build up 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, behaviour, marketing, etcetera. To make it a bit manageable but effective I advise you to read at least one book every three months and to subscribe to a number of interesting blogs or newsletters. If you then get one valuable insight from each book and do the same every month with the information from blogs or newsletters, it quickly results in 16 new sales ideas per year!

2. Train.

It's a cliché, but still topical: the ratio training-practice of top athletes is about 90-10. For sales professionals, the ratio is often the other way around. Or even less so. The time spent on good, effective training is very poor compared to the hours spent in practice. A pity, because if you invest more time in practice-oriented training, you get more return from your sales practice. This does not necessarily mean that you have to spend more hours in a training room. By practicing online, with or without a colleague, or sparring with your sales manager or your partner, you can strengthen your skills.

3. Learn from the best in your organization or industry.

What could be safer and more educational than learning from a colleague who performs remarkably well? He or she works for the same company, with the same offer under the same conditions. Most top executives like to share knowledge, skills and insights, but you have to ask for them. Are you self-employed and don't you have any colleagues from whom you can learn? Then focus on top formers in your industry and invite them for lunch. Clearly state why and what you want to learn from them and ask if they are willing to help you. Of course it's not convenient to approach your biggest competitor for this, but believe me: there are plenty of fellow self-employed people who enjoy sparring about 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 courses or while reading an article or book about sales: 'Open door! I've known this for a long time, I've 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 especially don't want to get better in their profession. Think up good sales questions? An appealing value proposition? Get commitment? Of course you know that these are important skills in sales! But tell me honestly: how good are you at it? And how can you become even better at it? And how would that help you in your profession? These questions about the application of skills are guaranteed to give you much more than statements about 'already knowing' about them. Sales is all about doing. 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 notebook or notebook app.

- What did I do right?

- What didn't I do right or what did I forget?

- What have I learned from this conversation and what am I going to do concretely differently next time?

The time investment of this self-reflection is a few minutes. The proceeds? A lot of useful insights and learning moments that will make you better again and 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. Which step do you take to be better than good?


Marcel Hoefman

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