Hello SOTGC community,
If you’re wondering where I’m going with this based on the title…it’s another sales post. However, I do believe the overall theme can apply to anyone, in any job, in any industry. Lately my teammates and I (for those of you just now starting to read SOTGC, my day job is surgical device sales) have been talking about objection handling, and also about how to handle competitive products. Anyone in any job will tell you that when you are good at what you do, you will spend half your time fending off competition and differentiating yourself or your products from your competitors. In sales that competition is in the form of someone with a “comparable” product or service that you have, and in any other job it’s someone who wants your job or the promotion you’re going for.
When I first started off in the industry I was working for a small company that no one in my territory had ever heard of, and had a product that maybe only a small handful of surgeons had ever heard about. And since it was my first job in the medical industry, I had to simultaneously get my product in through the myriad of “new product committees” as well as work to establish a solid reputation. A few months after I started gaining traction with my product, I started to see every company that had a “competitive product” start coming after me and trying to displace my product. I put those two words in quotation marks because there is truly nothing in the industry (right now) that is a true direct competitor…but that didn’t (and to this day doesn’t) stop anyone who thinks they can, try and displace me.
Ever watch that movie The Mighty Ducks back in 1992? In the beginning their goalie was so scared of the puck being shot at him, that to get him over that fear their coach tied him to the goal posts and had the rest of the team shoot pucks at him (all at once) until he got used to it, no longer feared the pucks being shot at him, and actually was asking for more. Coaches, I’m pretty sure if you try this tactic with your team…you will be sued…so maybe we just keep this as a scene in a movie huh. 🙂
If you think of your business, whether it’s product/service sales, or as your job or the promotion you’re going for (for those of you NOT in sales) as the goal you are defending, then think of your competition as the strikers or forwards from the other team who are sent out to score on you. The strikers are never going to stop shooting on your goal, and so you can either decide to stand aside and let them score on you (therefore letting yourself, your coach, and your team down), or you can dive for each shot, block it, and then jump back up to block the next one coming at you at full speed.
For me, I got my hard core practice in the goal box three years ago when 4 of the 5 biggest medical device companies had products that their local reps decided could displace my product. And they all came at me full speed and fired shot after shot, with huge company names and their established reputation in the accounts backing them. At first I went into panic mode and thought (for about 2 minutes) about just giving up because who could deal with all this stress when I had JUST gotten a tenuous foothold in my accounts? But I’m not the type to roll over and die for anyone…so instead…I decided to take it as a compliment. The managers for these giant companies had sent their first string strikers after my business, and instead of being upset, I figured that I must be doing something right because no one attacks something they don’t see as a threat.
So how about you? Have you been fending off a competitive product in your job lately and are starting to loose faith? Or if you aren’t in sales, are you aware of the people who are coming for your job or going after that same promotion? I’m not trying to start a wave of paranoia, just stating a fact. If either of these ideas freaks you out then maybe it’s time to “tie yourself to those goal posts” and stand and face those shots being fired at you. The truth of the matter is this competition is never going away (especially if you work your way up the corporate ladder or do an exception job as a sales person and create a large book of business). So you can either stand aside and let these strikers score on you…or you can better your game, protect your lead, and go on to win the championship. Well what do you think? Are you ready to jump into the goal box…?
Marney Reid is a Marketing Program Manager for a global industry leader in medical device. She is also the Founder of Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling. She has nine years of sales experience in male dominated industries and is transcending the Glass Ceiling by using her authentic value proposition as a competitive advantage.