Become an Expert in Your Industry- Part 2 of 2
As mentioned in part 1 of this 2-part blog, becoming an expert in your industry is imperative if you want to rise to the top. In our last blog (part 1) we covered the importance of studying market trends and economics as well as end user group similarities and differences. In this blog we will cover the last two areas to cover: competitive offerings and future development plans and projections.
A critical aspect of your offering is knowing the competitive landscape in your industry. Competition is a good thing. It is actually a great thing! Competition keeps everyone honest and serves the customer at the end of the day by ensuring that pricing and purchasing terms are appropriate. Knowing what your competition is doing and what they offer only adds to your overall expertise and adds credibility to you as an educated advisor or expert in your field.
Sellers today have the luxury of having all the data necessary for competitive analysis at their fingertips. By searching for any topic on the Internet, an abundance of information from product specifications to user analysis and commentary are available. This is an open source to become an expert on any topic. Furthermore, you can use the transactional experience itself to provide you additional information. Through the buying process, your customer has, no doubt, gathered his/her own information. They have also most likely already interacted with the competition. They have firsthand knowledge of the competitor’s sales cycle, solution information, pricing, and approach, and you have an opportunity to get this information from them. This may or may not be shared openly with you, but there is no harm in asking for information.
For example, if you were selling a solution to a customer who did not have any solution in place thus far, you could ask them a series of questions, such as:
How has your experience been thus far in gathering your information?
What surprises have you learned along the way?
What solution elements have you been most impressed with?
Is our product pricing on par with the others in the market?
Is there anything negative about our solution that you have learned in your research that I can clarify for you?
How does our service offering compare to the competitors?
Asking these questions can open lines of communication on the topic that are more valuable than any other research gathered. Although some buyers will hold their cards close to the chest and not want to share their findings, after the sale is completed, they may be more open to sharing. If they end up purchasing from you, they will most often share. If they do not purchase from you, then my suggestion is that you use the experience to learn by conducting a post mortem on the lost opportunity. A few follow-up questions can offer insight to assist in future sales opportunities.
I understand that you have made your final decision based upon your research, but can I ask for some feedback on our interaction during the process?
What key elements were considered in your final purchasing decision?
What were the top three reasons that made you choose the competitor’s solution?
Is there anything that I could have done differently to win your business?
While hearing the answers could sometimes be uncomfortable, they will provide valuable insight. The main goal here is to analyze all offerings available to the customer and establish why someone would want to purchase your product over another’s. What makes your offering better? Where do your strengths and weaknesses lie? Knowing this information is imperative as you navigate your market.
Future Development Plans and Projections.
As you think about the industry which you sell to, reflect on the trends and history that we discussed earlier in this chapter. Think about how the trends and behavior have changed in the last year or two, or five, or ten. Most industries have been affected by the technology advancements of the last ten years. With this in mind, ask yourself where the market is going.
What changes are industry experts predicting?
How will pricing change?
What about the supply and demand of your product?
Does the current offering have longevity, or will it be replaced by a newer, better solution in the coming years?
How will the global economy affect your offering?
What about market growth?
What other competitive dynamics that may influence your success?
All of these items should be considered, as they will affect investment strategies today for your customer base. They are the winds that will either push you forward or push you off course, depending on how you prepare.
Remember, your customer is coming to you to solve an issue for them. They will be more apt to purchase from someone who is an expert in their field. They will have the confidence in you to make them feel at ease with making the best decision. You will be able to:
Inform them of the solution that you offer today.
Tell them where the market has been and offer speculation on where it is going.
Speak to the industry and all credible players that have options for them.
Identify their pain as you have spent time in their shoes and understand the challenges they face.
And then you will then connect your knowledge and expertise and present a customized solution to fulfill their needs. Most likely at that point you will get the sale… and if you don’t, then you will get valuable information from them afterwards which will help you get the following one.
Excerpt from “Capture Your Power in Sales and Business” ©2018