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Winning Back the Business

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Victor Antonio

Winning Back the Business

Victor Antonio

Winning Back
The Business
11 Tactics for Ousting
Your Competition

By Victor Antonio

1st Edition
Sales Influence Publishing

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Winning Back the Business

Victor Antonio

Sales Influence Edition


Copyright 2007 by Victor Antonio
Published by Battle Elf Publishing
All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be produced in
any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including
photocopy and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval
system, without permission in writing from the author or publisher;
exceptions are made for brief excerpts used in published reviews.
This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative
information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the
understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal,
accounting, or other professional services. If legal advice or other
expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional
should be sought.
Sales Influence Publication
Edition is published by
Victor Antonio,
11770 Haynes Bridge Road,
Suite 205-501
Alpharetta, Georgia 30004
www.SalesInfluence.com
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: February 2007
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Antonio, Victor
Winning Back the Business 11 Tactics for Ousting your
Competition
ISBN 0-999-99999-9 (U.S.A.)
1. Business 2. Sales

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Winning Back the Business

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Victor Antonio

Winning Back the Business

Victor Antonio

Table of Content
Foreword
Introduction
Chapters:
1. The Comparative Analysis
2. Bid-Buster Proposals
3. Undressing the Competition
4. Information Seminars G2
5. Finding a Champion
6. Fund a Study
7. Tradeshow Tactics
8. Whitepapers
9. Demos: Point of Spear
10. Hanging Around: An Any Weather Friend
11. Being Flexible

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Winning Back the Business

11 Tactics for Ousting Your Competitors

Victor Antonio

Winning Back the Business

Victor Antonio

Foreword
I dont like being long-winded when it comes to explaining
business concepts. I dont like telling too many stories
since I think at times it may detract from my conciseness.
I wrote this book based on the premise of keeping things
simple and to the point.

I have a casual writing style. I

could sound stuffy, but that would double or triple the size
of the book without adding any real content. I dont think
youd like that.
Frankly, I think theres enough verbal pollution and
dilution out there already without me contributing to the
ozone layer of ambiguity. Im often criticized for my style,
but Ive learn to embrace my method of communication. I
hope you get as much out of this book as I have in putting it
together. Enjoy!
Victor Antonio, Sales Influence
www.SalesInfluence.com

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Introduction
This book wasnt premeditated. It simply began to happen.
Let me explain. One day a colleague of mine, well call
him Bill, called to tell me that he had accepted a position
with one of our competitors. Now, I wasnt Bills boss, but
as a corporate citizen and executive of the company and as
part of the merger and acquisition team, I was concerned
from a shareholders standpoint.
At first I was shocked when Bill broke the news to me,
since he had been with the company for more than 15
years. I kept thinking, It mustve been a damn good offer
for him to leave.
I asked Bill if there was anything that the company or I
could do to dissuade him or at least encourage him to
reconsider going to our competitor. Bill flatly refused any
last minute attempts at trying to get him to return to the
company fold.
After talking to Bill, my emotional reaction was fear.
Why? Bill was managing two of the companys largest
accounts. These two accounts contributed more than 60%

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to the total revenue. Talk about putting all your eggs in one
basket!
If Bill left and persuaded these accounts to follow him to
his new company, we would be in a world of hurt trying to
achieve our target revenue.
How would this impact our company and our business? I
kept asking myself. Thats when my anxiety kicked in.
There was nothing I could do; I felt helpless. It would only
be a matter of time before Bill became a competitive
nuisance.
I knew Bill would try to gain these accounts as soon as
possible. Why else would our competitor hire him?
Admitting You Have a Sales Problem
After Bill informed me that he had taken a job with a
competitor, I made a call to the Vice President of Sales to
get his thoughts on Bills sudden departure. I was shocked
again by his calmness about the change.

We had a

conversation that went something like this:


VP of Sales: Bill is a good guy, but we have other
people with similar expertise who can easily
backfill his position.

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Me: Bill has been working these major accounts


for at least seven years and his revenue represents
60% of the companys revenue. Arent you worried
he might take our accounts with him?
VP of Sales: Yeah, a little. But weve been
working with these companies for years now and
they appreciate the quality of our products and the
level of service we provide.
Me: Yes, but Bill has a close relationship with the
decision makers. He takes them out to lunch and
plays golf with them. Isnt that a cause for
concern?
VP of Sales (Sounding a little irritated): Victor, I
know those guys over there, and I dont think we
should be pushing the panic button yet.
Me: All right. I hope youre right.
I was disappointed that the VP of Sales didnt share my
level of concern. I didnt want to confront him and tell him
that knowing the customer is not the same as having a
relationship with the customer.
The most important lesson that selling has taught me is that
people like to buy from people they know and trust. If Bill
went to another company because he felt he could offer his
customer a better option, then the customer might question

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whether to continue doing business with someone who


knows him or to follow someone he trusts.
For all I know, the VP of Sales could be right.

Our

company may be able to stave off Bills approach with the


new company.

My concern was his complacency.

He

lacked the sense of urgency I expected, especially when the


revenue stakes were high.
The conversation continued:
Me: Who will replace Bill?
VP of Sales: Well, were going to hand the
account over to John, who has some experience in
that market and knows the account.
Me: Has John sold to Companies A and B in the
past?
VP of Sales: No, but I will work with him to get
him up to speed.
Me: Does John know the key decision makers
directly?
VP of Sales: Hes met with them once or twice
before, so it should be a smooth transition.
Thats when it hit me: this VP of Sales is delusional.
Someone with years of experience on a crucial account has
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just accepted a job with a competitor, and the best response


we have to this frontal sales attack is an inexperienced
person who may have met the decision makers once or
twice.

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Heres when you know you have a problem:


1) Your top salesperson, whos been working an
account for a long time, goes to the competitor.
2) This same person knows the products weaknesses
and can exploit them to his or her advantage.
3) The exiting salesperson goes golfing with the key
decision makers, while your replacement has never
even had lunch with them.
4) The new company that hired the salesperson has
similar products that are almost indistinguishable.
5) A person of tenure leaves a company and has a
successful track record with the customer,
transferring that credibility over to the new
company by proxy.
I dont know about you, but it seems to me that this is not a
good position to be in. The VPs lack of urgency and
paranoia disturbed me for obvious reasons.
Only time will tell whether Bills leaving the company and
going to a competitor will hurt the company, which is
beyond the scope of what I want to talk about here.

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Thinking like a Wolf


Call me paranoid, but I couldnt sleep. I was reminded of
the story of the wolf in sheeps clothing, hiding among its
prey before devouring them slowly over time.

Bills

position was no different. He would probably put on the


sheep suit and try to get into the customer corral.
It would be easy for him: our companies had similar
products, making it that much more difficult to fend off
Bill. How would he do it? I asked myself. What tactics
would he use to get our clients on his side?
I sat down and immediately began listing ways he could
possibly outmaneuver us. My mind raced with ideas and
strategies for how Bill could penetrate our customer base
and win over the business.
The list that I jotted down, along with tactical strategies,
became this book. So if youve ever lost business and need
to win it back, or never had it in the first place and want to
kick your competitors out, this book is for you.
For now and throughout the rest of this book, I want you to
pretend youre Bill. Youre no longer the incumbent. You
are an outsider looking in and you want in.

Youre

thinking, What strategies or tactics could I use to win that

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business from my competitor? Lets start answering this


extremely important question.

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Never assume your customer knows the


difference between you and your competitor.
Assuming is ignorance wrapped in laziness,
which leads to lost sales.

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Strategy #1
The Comparative Analysis
Most people are visual in nature and will often respond
more favorably to visual descriptions than to text on a page
or spoken words. You can write a one-page brochure and
tell your customer why youre better than your competitor,
but the message may not get across. You can explain how
your product works more effectively than the one theyre
currently using and they may still not completely get it.
However, a side-by-side graphical comparison may get
them to pause. In business, that pause is often all you need
to get your product in and your competitors product out.
One of the most powerful tools in ousting a competitor is
the comparative analysis. If you can show your customer
that your product or service is superior to what they are
currently using, you have a chance of winning their
business.
I want to note briefly here that although you can
demonstrate product or service superiority, there are still
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other factors (politics, cost of changing over, budget,


manpower, etc.) that may prevent you from making the
sale. So let me set a realistic expectation by stating that a
comparative analysis is a good tool of entry, but it doesnt
guarantee success.

However, I can guarantee that your

business will be hurt if you dont have a comparative


analysis of your products and your competitors products.
Let me take a step back and define comparative analysis
and then look at different ways of using this tool. A graph
that shows revenue or sales over discrete periods of time is
simply a graphical representation of how much the
company is making or selling. A comparative analysis is a
graphical representation of important features of your
companys product versus your competitors.
In order to begin putting together a comparative analysis,
the first step is to decide what product or service you want
to promote to beat out the competition.

Once youve

chosen the product, the next step is to define your top three
(or more) competitors in the market.

Your marketing

department can help to identify your main competitors. If


you dont have a marketing department, use an online
search engine. Type in the keywords that describe your
product and see how many companies are listed that may
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be selling a competitive product. This takes time to pull


together, but I can assure you that the time invested is well
spent.

By the time youve analyzed the market and

competitors, you will have a better of understanding of


where you fit and how to oust your competitor in order to
win the business. A simple comparative analysis could
look something like this:

Your

Competitor

Competitor

Competitor

Product

Feature A

Feature B

Feature C

Feature D

The symbol denotes which companys products have that particular


feature.

Before I rush into the dynamics of interpreting a


comparative analysis, let me ask you a basic question:
Knowing your product, what features should you list in a
comparative analysis that would be most convincing to
your customers?
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If you can name three to five features in answer to this


question without hesitation, then you should slap (not pat)
yourself on the back, because the 80:20 rule applies here.
Only 20% of salespeople really know their customers
needs and wants. If you cant readily answer this question,
then you may be among the remaining 80%, and its time to
go back and do some homework. If you dont know what
your customers need or want, how can you sell to them?
The first step in developing an effective comparative
analysis is to list and prioritize the features you think a
customer may deem important.

Priority 1

Feature A

Priority 2

Feature B

Priority 3

Feature C

Priority 4

Feature D

Priority 5

Feature E

This list could be longer than five items. If I were to guess


at a magic number of features to list, it would be between
five and ten, depending on the complexity of the product.

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The more complex the product, the more features you may
need to highlight in the comparative analysis.
For example, you may have a high-technology product
where the key concern is product performance. Engineers
will be quick to highlight key representative parameters
that will give them a good idea of how well the unit will
perform. On the other hand, you may have a software
package that has many features and will require a longer
list to really highlight its power and data-management
capability when compared to a competitor. In short, the
size of the list will be determined by the products
complexity.
It would serve you well to keep in mind that customers
always request two categories of features: needs and wants.
You should always be aware of the difference.

Each

feature provides a certain benefit. You can have fancy


features, but if the customer perceives a low benefit, the
feature in and of itself provides little value. It may fall
under the category of nice to have, but dont really think
Ill need it.
You should find out in advance both what the customer
needs and what they want if they could have it for the same
price. A need and a product benefit are two sides of the
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same coin. From the sellers perspective, its a benefit.


From the buyers standpoint, its what they need.
When I train salespeople in my seminars I usually ask,
Name some key product features your customer believes
brings real value.
quality.

Without fail, someone will answer

I respond with the verbal buzzer, Wrong

answer. Quality should be an inherent part of all products,


which clients expect all the time. Quality is not a feature; it
is an expectation held by the customer that should already
be considered a given.
Once youve listed and prioritized your products most
salient features, the next step in the comparative analysis
process is to define the benefit of each feature from a
customers standpoint.

Priority 1

Feature A

Benefit

Priority 2

Feature B

Benefit

Priority 3

Feature C

Benefit

Priority 4

Feature D

Benefit

Priority 5

Feature E

Benefit

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A benefit to you might NOT be a benefit to a customer. So


I caution you to always list benefits in terms of satisfying a
customers needs and in their language. By their language,
I mean that a benefit should sound as if it had been written
for them or by them.
Example:
Product: Ball
Feature: Red
Benefit: Very easy to see when bouncing off the white
walls in your cafeteria.
Ill admit its a silly example, but it does get across the
point that I knew the color of their cafeteria walls and
understood the importance of being able to see the balls
easily.
My point is that all benefits should be written or expressed
in the context of the customer you are trying to convince.
The more you customize the benefits to the customer, the
more likely they are to resonate and impress.
Do not underestimate the power of customizing or
personalizing benefits when doing a presentation to a
customer.

The key to any great presentation is to

demonstrate an understanding of the customers needs and


wants and to be able to offer solutions (i.e., benefits) on the
spot.
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The Psychology of the Divide and Conquer Strategy


Listing your features by priority in descending order is
critical in getting a customer to listen. But how should you
list your competitors? Here is a technique that has served
me well over the years: list your top competitors from left
to right. In other words, if youre in the first column, list
your fiercest competitor in the next column right and the
following to the right of that column.

Your weakest

competitor should be at the far right of your comparative


matrix.

Your

Competitor

Competitor

Competitor

Product

Feature A

Feature B

Feature C

Feature D

Notice from the table above that Competitor 1 has almost


all the same features as our product.

Also note that

Competitors 2 and 3 have only two of the top four features.

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If both have the same number of features, why did I list


Competitor 2 before Competitor 3 in terms of importance?
The answer is that although both competitors have the same
number of features, Competitor 2 has more important
features, since the features are listed by priority. This is
important to note when putting together a comparative
analysis.
When a customer sees this comparative analysis, they will
immediately see that they really only have one other
alternative (Competitor 1) who may be able to fulfill their
needs. If the customer concludes that Feature D is not that
important while Features A-C are, youve just shown the
client that the only real alternative is Competitor 1.
What have you done psychologically? In the customers
mind, the field of four options (yourself and the other three
competitors) has now been reduced to just you and
Competitor 1. This is why an analysis is important. It can
be used as a tool to oust your competitor by making it clear
to the customer that there are only a few vendors who offer
all the features they need.
What this has also done for you as a salesperson is to
narrow your focus, not to outselling three competitors, but
to the one that most closely resembles your offering
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(Competitor 1). This makes your sales presentation far


easier since you now only have to demonstrate that your
product is superior to the top competitor.
If the customer decides that Feature D is critical and
needed, then one of two things will happen:
1) Competitor 1 will be asked to fulfill that demand
and find a way to make that feature available in a
predetermined timeframe.
2) If Competitor 1 cant do that, you will win the deal.
On the other hand, if the customer decides that Feature D
isnt critical, you have a sales fight on your hands. You
had better have other feature bullets in your chamber if
youre going to beat your competitor.
In my situation at work, knowing all of this information
about how the comparative analysis works and can be used
to my benefit, I asked myself the question, How will Bill
use this against us to win the business back?
I knew Bill would use the comparative analysis to his new
companys advantage by shifting the features to favor him.
Lets assume for a minute that Bills new company is
Competitor 2. Instead of listing the final Feature D, hell

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probably omit it altogether and replace it with a feature that


we dont have.
Absolutely every product has a weakness. The killer, noweakness product has yet to be invented.

Even the

software titan Microsoft sometimes has to release a new


software patch to mend or amend features.
My ex-colleague Bills a smart guy and knows our products
well, including the products weaknesses. He can easily
rearrange the comparative analysis to his advantage and sell
against us more effectively.

The Menu Effect


Your job as a salesperson will be to make sure that the
competitor doesnt muddy the water by introducing
features that arent needed. If this happens, the customer
may be overwhelmed or confused by too many features to
determine what is really important.
Have you ever been to a small deli where there are only 3-5
items on the Todays Special menu? Choosing what to eat
is relatively easy given the limited choices and great price.
Now, walk over to a five-star restaurant and ask for their
menu. More than likely they will give you a four- to sixsided menu with over ten categories and 50 items to choose

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from, with at least 20 side options to choose among! The


choice then becomes more difficult to make. The old adage
that a confused mind has a hard time deciding applies here.
This is exactly what you dont want to have happen to your
customer. Your comparative analysis is in effect a menu of
items that the customer needs. The challenge is to meet
their needs without overwhelming them.
The comparative analysis is by far the most powerful sales
tool Ive encountered, whether you use it to sell against a
competitor or simply to

introduce your products

superiority to a client. If a comparative analysis is used


against you by a competitor, you will be at a disadvantage
if you dont have your own analysis.

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Chapter Notes:

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Your competitors are weakest the moment


they feel secure in their position with a large
client. Their confidence breeds complacency
and can create an opportunity for you to step
in, over-deliver, and win back the clients
business.

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Strategy #2
Bid-Buster Proposals
If a company has been buying from a sole source or maybe
two companies at most for many years, I can assure you
that theyve been lulled into a comfort zone where any
mention of change or reconsideration of a new vendor will
be met with hostility. Nobody wants to change vendors
unless there is a compelling reason to do so.
Im sure Bill, now working for our top competitor, knows
this.

As I mentioned in the introduction, Bill had an

ongoing relationship with two top accounts for many years.


He is now representing the new company and trying to
unseat the incumbent.
Bills strategy will be to re-introduce himself to the account
under the new competitors banner and then to begin to
create what Ernest Dichter calls constructive discontent.
In other words, hell try to make the customer unhappy
with what theyre currently buying (discontent) but to do so

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in such a way as to not damage himself (constructive) and


still motivate the customer to consider changing.
How will Bill do it?

He will find a way to stir up

discontent by attacking our products weaknesses and


making sure theyre highlighted.
This strategy is ineffective if all is going well with the
product in terms of quality, state-of-the-art and price. If
not, here comes Bill.
The first salvo will be to use the first strategy we discussed,
the comparative analysis. By showing the customer that
there is a better product in the market and that it exceeds
their existing suppliers feature set, he will motivate the
client to consider changing. I say consider because a
client will not switch vendors simply because another
product is slightly better. The gap between the features and
benefits of the two products must be great for the customer
to seriously consider making a change.
Keep in mind that a customer may have many people in the
decision-making chain. If one person initiates a change of
product in the company, he or she will need a list of
compelling reasons in order to convince his or her
colleagues in the chain. Here is a list of some reasons a
customer might change vendors:
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Product lacks features


Poor quality
Inadequate customer service
No training
Long learning cycle
Price

I list price last because it has been my experience that if


you have a great product with great quality and great
support, price is relegated to the back of the line when it
comes to deciding what to buy. The purchaser or buyer
may have a different take on this, but thats a topic for
another book about the finance side of business.
If a competitor can demonstrate that they meet or exceed
the incumbents features and benefits, price may become an
issue. Why pay more for a product of equal value?
Timing
Understanding the customers buying cycles is critical if
youre using this strategy.

If you know when the new

budgets become available you can use it to your advantage.


Lets say a large corporations financials are based on a
calendar year. That means that they have four quarters in

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one calendar year, as opposed to three quarters on a noncalendar year schedule.

Calendar Year Schedule:


January March
Quarter 1
April June
Quarter 2
July September
Quarter 3
October December Quarter 4
Non-Calendar Year Schedule:
October December Quarter 1*
January March
Quarter 2
April June
Quarter 3
July September
Quarter 4
*Note: Quarter isnt in the same calendar year
In a calendar year, the first day of the fiscal year is January
1st. In a non-calendar year, the first day is October 1st.
Understanding what type of schedule a company uses is
critical if you want to instigate a new bid process so you
can get your products in the door. If a company is on a
calendar year, it is more than likely that their budgeting for
the following year will occur either toward the end of the
third quarter (Q3) or the beginning of the fourth quarter
(Q4).
Calendar Year Schedule:
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January March
April June
July September
October December

Victor Antonio

Quarter 1
Quarter 2
Quarter 3 (budgeting begins for next year)
Quarter 4 (budgets are finalized for next year)

Non-Calendar Year Schedule:


October December Quarter 1
January March
Quarter 2
April June
Quarter 3 (budgeting begins for next year)
July September
Quarter 4 (budgets are finalized for next year)
Knowing the budget cycle period is important for next
year's revenue.

Once budgets are set, its tough to get

anything added or changed. Your objective is to get your


product into the following year's budget.
The best time to begin building a momentum for change in
a company is Quarter 2 (Q2). An aggressive and strategic
salesperson knows that it takes a while to meet with the key
people and get them into a room.
Strategically, Q2 should be used for preparation by getting
in front of the right people with your competitive product.
It should also be used to find out what the competitors
weaknesses are and to seek out people in the company who
are unhappy with the competitors products.

These

dissenters are predisposed to listen to you and to take up


your cause.

These folks can become your internal

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champions wholl push your product when youre not


around.
There are typically four types of people who can be
catalysts for change in a company: Customer Service,
Buyer, Technical/Production, and Finance Officer. Your
objective as a salesperson is to find out their discontents
with the existing product and use them to your advantage.
Let me suggest some possible stress points for you to use
for each personnel type.
Customer Service
These are the frontline people who deal with the end user
or customer directly. If anyone knows the weakness of a
product or service, it is these folks.

Customer service

people are often treated as second-class citizens or an evil


cost necessity. Use that to your advantage by showing them
the respect they deserve. I believe in the take a customer
service person to lunch philosophy. If you want the real
dirt on whats going on in a company, get to know the
customer service people.

They will be more apt to share

their insights, especially if a product is not working out,


because they are the ones who receive the complaints.

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Technical/Production
If the company makes a product, the technical person is the
one responsible for the performance of the product in the
field. If the company provides a service in a particular
industry, then youre looking for the person who services
the clients. For sake of simplicity, lets call this person an
implementer: the person who implements a product or
service. Implementers want to make their job as easy as
possible. They dont want any problems and they dont
want any customer complaints. The most effective strategy
when going after implementers is to get first-hand
information about what is and isnt working in the field.
Theres a big difference between what one reads in a
product or service manual and the reality in the field after
implementation.
Buyer
Buyers are focused on getting the best price, but are often
not knowledgeable about the products themselves. Their
mandate is to reduce the overall cost of buying by some
X% every year in order to look good in their job. All the
buyers see is how much things cost.

How the product

functions or performs is out of their purview of


responsibility.

They will take their orders from the

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technical person or production person who needs the


material. Dont waste your time talking about technical
issues with a buyer. The strategy here is to find out what
theyre paying for the competitor's product.
Finance Officer
This is the person who is always worried about gross
margins and net profits, and who is always looking to
maximize shareholder value by finding ways to reduce
cost. Finance officers are evaluated on their ability to rein
in spending and control costs. If you can get in front of the
finance officer and create a constructive discontent that will
result in a re-evaluation of products (i.e. new bid
proposals), youve done your job. Financial officers are
very bottom-line oriented and you need to provide a
compelling price-saving product or service to get heir
attention. If you have a product thats just a little cheaper,
this will NOT get the finance officers attention. If you
dont have a product that clearly demonstrates cumulative
cost savings, then you will probably NOT get his or her
attention.

How seriously a finance officer will take you

will depend on how much money your product can save


and how sensitive the company is to spending at that
moment.
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If I wanted to get the business back, I would focus on these


four departments in the order Ive listed them: Customer
Service, Technical/Production, Buyer, and then Finance.
Let me explain the order. Customer service is the front line
when it comes to dealing with the customer.

technical/production person will always ask the customer


service

person

for

client

feedback.

The

technical/production person will tell (not ask) the buyer


what to buy. And, as long as the numbers are reasonable
and there isnt a better solution, either technically or
financially, the finance office will not get involved.

Last Ditch Effort: Proposal Review


Lets assume that in the end your efforts were fruitless; you
still lost the bid proposal. The next thing you need to do is
request a Bid Proposal Review to see why you lost the bid.
Asking for one of these meetings may seem uncomfortable.
In fact, the decision makers may be a little hesitant to grant
you a review because they fear a confrontation. You need
to make it explicitly clear that you understand that the
decision has been made and that you simply want to
understand why you werent chosen so that you can work
to improve your product or service for the next bid proposal
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opportunity. If you present a genuine openness to critiques


of your product or service, you may be granted a meeting.
In that meeting, your objective will be to clearly understand
why you lost the proposal. Take copious notes, but more
importantly, ask questions that should fall under the
following categories:

What were the key drivers in this proposal?

What were some of the intangible values attributed


to the winning bid?

Who were the key decision makers?

How did the decision process work?

Were price or payment terms issues?

What were perceived downsides of working with


our company?

Was there something specific about the proposal


that they didnt like?

Is this a one-year or multi-year contract?

Will they require a second source supplier?

Last but not least, is it possible to resubmit a bid? If


so, when?

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What youre really looking for is a way in the next time


around. You want to know if there is a willingness to
change vendors or suppliers. You want to know what you
will need to do to win the business back on the next try.
Use this opportunity to clarify any misconceptions that they
may have about your company or the product or service
you offer. Ive found these bid reviews to be both painful
and helpful. They can be painful when you have to hear
what they really think of your product. But they can be
helpful in giving you some insight that you can take back to
your company as feedback to use in the future and to
ensure everyone has a better understanding of why the
company is losing business and market share.
Try this strategy. The worst thing that can come out of this
is that theyll know you really cared about their business. It
may be painful for you, but you will uncover reasons and
maybe discover things they missed. This is a good time to
bring unclear or ambiguous issues to light. Who knows,
you may even be able to change the outcome! Either way,
this process will serve you well in the future with this
customer and other potential clients.

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Chapter Notes:

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The Wizard of Oz taught us that projecting a


powerful image is necessary if you want to
command respect. Learn to pull back the
curtain on your competitor so clients can see
that your competitors image isnt always what
they say it is.

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Strategy #3
Undressing the Competition
As I thought about how Bill might go after our business
with his new products from his new company, I began to
wonder what other indirect types of damage Bill could
inflict on our business if he wanted to.
One of the scariest things I could think of was the
possibility that Bill might air our dirty laundry to our
customers. Let me stop here for a moment and point out
the obvious: every company has some type of dirty laundry
(information that they dont want to get out to their
customers or into their competitors hands).
I was afraid Bill was going to go public with a lot of the
dirty little kinks our company had yet to work out but
which were transparent to our customer base. There were
other sources of information he could use that would
reinforce his arguments.
Lets think like Bill and see what type of damage we could
do to kick the incumbent out and win the business back.
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10K Option
If youre not familiar with a 10K filing, you should be. A
10K filing is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
requirement that forces publicly traded companies to
disclose their financials and strategic business plan.
Obviously, the people most interested in this information
are the company shareholders (people who have purchased
or have been awarded stock options).
From a financial standpoint, a 10K report is truly an
undressing of a company, since any attempt at withholding
information from the public could lead to erosion of
shareholder value and SEC fines. After the large financial
scandals of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the government,
in order to ensure regulatory compliance for financial
disclosure, instituted the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) which
outlines strict compliance requirements. In simpler terms,
they gave companies a list of Dos and Donts. Companies
that dont adhere to the rules can expect to be fined and key
company figures may be imprisoned.
The key thing to look for in a companys financials is
simply whether the company is making money.

Here are

some questions you should ask yourself when reviewing a


10K:
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If the company is making money, is it growing?

What are the year-over-year growth percentages?

Is it gradual or dramatic growth? If so, why?

Are all its divisions or groups making money?

Which groups are losing revenue?

Are they selling off their accounts receivables (A/R)


to generate cash?

When reviewing the 10K financials, youre looking for a


chink in the armor. Youre looking for some indication
that things are not going as well as the company tells its
customers.
For example, a company I once sold against was well
positioned inside a large manufacturer. The manufacturer
was happy with their partnership, which had been gong on
for over five years. They loved the product and they loved
their supplier.
I took a look at their financials out of curiosity, to see how
they were making money, where the money was coming
from, and how much they were selling into this particular
market.
To my surprise, I noticed that the company financials over
the last three years were starting to look very shaky. The
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had

made

Victor Antonio

poor

investments and

wasnt

reinvesting in research and development to develop new


products for the market. I also found out that for the last
few quarters they had been losing money and were running
on their cash reserves.

The 10K stated that they were

restructuring and expected to get spending under control for


the following fiscal year. This and other restructuring
would put them back into positive cash flow. (Translation:
we need to cut costs if we want to stop losing money).
There are only two ways to cut costs: reduce their operating
overhead and/or reduce their headcount (i.e., fire people).
This information allowed me an opportunity to get my foot
in the doorway. The next time I met with the client, I asked
them if they were aware that their main supplier was losing
money. They didnt know. The lesson here is that buyers
dont necessarily read their suppliers 10K filings. Heres
one example of how you might use this information to get
in and win the business back.
You might launch a hypothetical balloon and ask questions
along these lines,
You: So your supplier never mentioned that they were
having financial difficulties?
Client: No, he never did.
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You: If your main supplier goes belly up, without


notice, do you have a second supplier to fill their
shoes?
Client: No, no we dont.
You: Then wouldnt it be prudent to consider putting
our product on your vendor approved list to ensure that
youre never caught off guard?
Client: Yes, it would be wise.
You: Great. I can ship you a demo product for your
product approval process and we can get going.
Now, I am well aware that not all conversations will go this
smoothly or move this quickly. The point I want to make is
that 10Ks have a plethora of information that you can mine
and use against your competition. How and when you use
this information is up to you.
Be very careful how you use the information. You dont
want to come across too strong or to be perceived as a
vendor just trying to stir up trouble to promote your
product. The best approach is to probe by asking questions
to determine how informed your customer is about their
main supplier.
How do you find a 10K? Go to any major search engine
and search for financial reports, then type in the companys
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publicly traded stock symbol (3 to 4 letters). From there


you should be able to access the 10K by looking at their
filing information.

If not, go to the following link

www.sec.gov.com/edgar.shtml and type in the company


symbol.
If a company is private (not publicly traded, so that there
arent any 10Ks) you may be able to find some data on
them using other database services like The Thomas
Registry or Dun and Bradstreet reports.
Missed Delivery Option
When a customer starts to miss delivery dates, you know
its time to get back in there and win back the business.
Sometimes, within a 10K filing, a company will state that
revenue for a particular division or group was low due to
manufacturing problems.
retooling.

This may be disguised as

If you have good connections within the

company youre trying to penetrate, you may start to hear


some rumblings that the delivery schedules are getting
longer.
Ive been in a situation where a main supplier began to
miss delivery dates by first a few days and then later a few

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weeks. This was all the information I needed to plan my


attack.
I went to the customer and first confirmed that their main
manufacturer was indeed missing some delivery dates. The
conversation went something like this:
Me: How are your shipments of widgets coming
along?
Client: Not bad, could be better.
Me: Yeah, I heard Company A was starting to slip on
their delivery dates. Is this affecting your customers?
Client: Nah, not really. At least not yet.
Me: If they began pushing their deliveries out and you
missed dates that would obviously affect your
business.
Client: Absolutely.
Me: Thats why Id like to suggest that your company
pre-qualify our product and place it on the optional
vendor list just in case.
Reminding the customer not to put all their eggs in one
supplier basket will allow you an opening into their product
supply pipeline.

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It is also wise to find out why the delivery dates are being
missed before you approach the client. The reasons could
vary, but each will provide a different angle of approach
from which to undress your competitor. For example, they
might have missed deliveries because of:

Limited capacity Either not enough manpower or


theyre limited by their production equipment.

Quality issues Problems with the product or


delivery of the service.

Tight inventory management Cash-tight (or


strapped) companies only buy as much inventory as
they need to conserve their cash burn rate.

Limited capacity can be resolved if your company is


willing to order extra inventory and/or pre-plan time for
service so that when the customer orders, the product or
service is available right away. Find out which products or
services are being delayed and adjust accordingly.
Find out what quality issues your competitor is having and
then go back to the home office and make sure you dont
have them yourself.

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Purchasing extra inventory is risky, especially when cash is


tight. But if youre in a position to do it, then do and let the
customer know that you are ready to meet or beat any
delivery time your competitor has to offer.

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Chapter Notes:

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Credibility stems not from knowledge alone,


but from the application of that knowledge in
helping others. Knowledge is only power
when it is organized and directed to meet
your clients needs.

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Strategy #4
Information Seminar G2
When a competitor is embedded in a company, it is often
difficult to get any mindshare (peoples attention to your
product) in an organization. Reluctance to change may be
another roadblock. Many companies dismiss new products
not because theyre not better, but more because they dont
want to change.

If things are going well, why rock the

boat?
Often, information regarding your industry may only be
known by a few people or departments in a company. This
could be done on purpose or may be simply a matter of a
company being so large and divided that not everyone is
aware of an alternative solution.
There could also be a proponent of the status quo who
essentially puts a wall around the existing product, thereby
ensuring that competitive products arent introduced into
the company. The motivation behind this type of behavior
can be complicated. For example:
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Theyve been working with the competitor for may


years

The person may have a great relationship with the


competitors personnel and doesnt want to see that
change.

Both companies are so entwined that any change


could cause a disruption in service

Fear of trying a new product

The new product approval process is long and timeconsuming and no one wants to volunteer their time
or effort

There are many reasons why a company may be hesitant to


let you in their front door. My experience has taught me
several things about winning back the business and ousting
my competition.
1) Never

assume

that

theyre

not

ready

for

changethats a mistake
2) Never assume that everything is fine with the
current supplierbad assumption.
3) Never assume that they know who you are and what
your company has to offer as an alternative.
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An effective way to spread the word about your product or


service is to hold an information seminar. Theres a right
way and a wrong way to do this.

Here are some of the

basics:

Focus on a company you really want to get in


front of.

Find a hotel nearby with a meeting room.

Make sure you give 4-6 weeks advance notice.

Do a 1-2 hour presentation in the morning and


offer continental breakfast.

Or, do a lunchtime presentation and offer


catering from a nearby restaurant which also
wants to get more business and notoriety.

Keeping the information seminar to a 1- to 2-hour


timeframe will prevent the excuse from your target client
that they dont have the time. Anybody can make time for
a short seminar if theyre so inclined. Offering breakfast or
lunch serves as an enticement to get people to come while
also showing that you are a conscientious company which
isnt afraid to spend a little money. Depending on the hotel
you choose and the number of people who show up, you
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could spend anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 to pull this


event together. Its not a lot of money considering the
potential return on investment (ROI).
How to Position the Seminar
We all know that people hate or at a minimum are reluctant
to be sold on a product. This is why this seminar should
not be about your product or service. This information
seminar should be about whats happening in the industry
and how your solutions are helping the industry to grow.
Emphasize the former and casually slide in the latter.
If your target audience smells a sales pitch, they will not
attend. The trick is to promote a seminar that is meant to
educate and enlighten your target audience.
An information seminar is just that, providing information
to your target audience that they may not be aware of. By
positioning you or your company as an expert in the field,
you gain credibility and a willingness on their part to listen
to you.

Thats the goal: getting your competitors

customers to listen to you or at least consider your point of


view (i.e. your companys new products).

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Once youve established your credibility in the first half of


the seminar, you have then earned the right to begin telling
them what your company has to offer.
Its human nature to want to buy from people who we feel
comfortable with and who seem to understand our needs.
Thats your goal in this seminar. Make people feel that you
understand the market needs, are credible, and want to help
them solve their problems or improve their efficiencies.
I once heard a saying that I often repeat to myself before a
presentation or seminar: people will only care about you
when you show them how much you care about them. The
seminar objective is to show them that you care about them
and youre there to help, not hinder.
How to Market the Seminar
The first thing you need to do is get word to the target
company that you are putting on a free informational
seminar.

The fastest way is to call those departments

within the company which youre interested in. Let them


know what youre going to talk about such as:

Find out about the newest trends in Industry X

Growth Potential for X market segment

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New technologies to increase.

How new government regulations are going to


change

New market research on what people are

These are great selling points for getting people to attend


your information seminar. Remember the whats in it for
me? proposition. They dont care what you have to offer
until you show them how it can benefit them. Dont forget
this!
Another alternative to calling is to get a list of all the
relevant companies in the area and begin a mailing
campaign. Here are two quick and relatively inexpensive
ideas.
Emailing
If you have an existing mailing list of customer or potential
clients who might be interested, by all means email them.
Include in the mailing the information mentioned above,
especially the "whats in it for them" statements.
What if there are people within a large company who youd
like to reach, but you dont have their email address? A
good way to address this is to find a champion for your
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cause in the target company who will email the folks on


your behalf. If you have no champion, speak with the
secretary. Tell the secretary how relevant this seminar is
and that its free.
Create a one-page electronic brochure that he or she can
then attach to an email list. Dont leave it up to your
contact to do the write-up. Make the task as painless as
possible by doing all the work for the champion or
secretary.
I suggest you set up a page on your companys website
where interested people can find more information and/or
register for the seminar. On the registration page make
sure you ask for: name, company, telephone number and
email.
Postcards or Brochures
There are many companies who sell mailing lists and can
parse them by industry and geographical location. If you
can design a one page flyer or brochure, you can mail it out
to the list. If youre targeting a specific company, you can
either mail your flyer to individuals, or again, ask the
secretary to make people aware by putting the brochures in
their mailboxes
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Again, set up a page on your companys website where


people can download more information and/or register for
the seminar.

In your brochure, highlight or otherwise

emphasize the web link for registration.


If you have a mailing list but dont have the time or
resources to organize the mailing yourself, there are many
companies who will design a brochure or postcard for you
and mail them out as well. The only thing you need to
provide is the concept and verbiage for the document, and
an electronic copy of the mailing list.
What and How to Present
The key to a successful information seminar is to present
information that your target audience may not already
know. The deeper and richer the information about the
market, industry or trends, the more responsive the
audience will be.

Again, spend a good 45-60 minutes

presenting the information and soliciting questions from


your target audience. This allows you to build a rapport
that will serve you well in the second half of the seminar.
During the first hour, you are looking to understand who is
in the audience and assess their knowledge level. These

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two reference points will allow you to navigate the waters


when pitching your product or service in the second hour.
As you move into the second hour of your presentation,
you must begin to insert your products or service. This is
where you tell them how you can help solve their problems.
In order to do so, I use the pepper and probe method. As
Im doing the presentation I mention our products casually
in the context of other industry issues or marketing trends,
and then probe the audience by asking questions. Here are
some probe questions:

Whats your annual budget for this type of product?

What is the typical buying cycle, in terms of time,


in your company for this type of product?

Does department X make buying decisions or do


they typically just make recommendations?

Who is your current supplier?

What are some of the drawbacks of your existing


solution?

If you had the ideal product, what features would it


include?

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If you sit down and give it some thought, you can come up
with a long list of probing questions to ask. This is the
most important stage of the information seminar. It is with
these questions that you are going to find out how to win
back the business and oust your competitor.
With each answer to the questions listed above, the
potential client is essentially telling you how to sell to
them. Get it? Each question is an insight into how to get
back the business.
The key to success during this stage is to not sound like the
grand inquisitor. Dont sound like Sherlock Holmes trying
to identify a criminal. If you come off that way, they will
see right through you. Thats why it is important to pepper
these probing questions throughout the presentation. The
questions have to come across as a natural byproduct of the
current conversation; they cant seem forced.

Your

questions should sound casual and open for discussion.


If you ask a question and dont get the answer you want,
dont repeat the question or force your audience to answer.
Bad move!

Casually continue with the flow of the

presentation and then find another opportune moment to


bring the question up in a different way.

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Part of selling is knowing when the question you asked


wasnt good enough to extract the information you desired.
A good lawyer would say, Let me rephrase the question.
You shouldnt state this in so many words, but when the
opportunity to ask the question comes up again, find a
better way of rephrasing it.

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The Qualification Funnel


As you observe and ask questions throughout the
presentation, be cognitively aware that what you are trying
to do is qualify whether or not youre on the right track
with the right product or service message for your target
client.
In sales, we have a qualification funnel where we move
from the widest part (suspects) to the narrow part of the
funnel (prospects). In an information seminar, the process
is similar. Your objective is to find people in the audience
who are open to your message and have a need for your
product or service.
A good indication that you are engaging the audience is a
good level of participation.

I cant stress enough how

important it is for the audience to interact with you while


youre presenting.

You have to come across as

knowledgeable, but more importantly you have to come


across as accessible; be someone they can relate to and
arent afraid to ask questions.
The quality of the questions and the level of involvement
should give you a sense of who may or may not be
interested in what you have to offer.

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Mentioning the Competition


You will eventually have to mention the competition you
are aiming to replace. How you handle this will determine
your level of effectiveness. Bad-mouthing a competitor in
a seminar is a no-no. Mentioning competitors too often is a
no-no. Discussing a competitor's weak points is a no-no
unless an audience member queries you on the subject. If
you throw too many stones at your competitor you may be
perceived as envious, or worse.
The best way to address how much better you are than your
competition is to use the comparative analysis that I
discussed in the first chapter.
People want to be shown, not told, that you have something
better.

If you want to compare yourself against your

competitor without drawing the ire of a potential supporter


in the audience, use comparative analysis to do so.
Be prepared to answer tough questions. Is this good or
bad? Good! Thats what you want: for people to begin
comparing your product with the one they are currently
using. This is why you put this information seminar
together in the first place: to get some dialogue going inside
your target company. If this discussion occurs, you have
completed your objective.
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Awards and Walk-Aways


A good way to stay in front of the customer long after the
seminar is over is to provide what I call visual reminders or
triggers of the event itself. For example, after one of my
seminars, I often hand out training certificates or small
plaques congratulating the attendees on completing my
half-day course. Many people will go back to their office
and hang the certificate or plaque on their wall. Thats
what I want them to do! Every time they look at it they
remember me, my product, and my company. When others
wander into their office, theyll see the plaque or certificate
and may even inquire about the event.
Another good giveaway is a copy of the seminar notes in a
three-ring binder. Why a three ring binder and not stapled
or coil-bound sheets? With a three ring binder, you can
create a label for the spine with your companys name and
the name of the seminar.

Most people tend to put the

binder with the rest of their binders. Every time that person
reaches for a binder, theyll see yours and be reminded of
your product or service.

I like to call this bookshelf

billboard space.

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If you staple notes together or put them in a coil binder, one


of two things will happen: theyll either get discarded or
stored and forgotten.
You may also want to consider getting some promotional
items with your companys name on them as giveaways.
My favorite strategy is to give away a cool shirt with my
company logo off to the side and a hip industry saying on
the front.

People love t-shirts and they do wear them.

Again, its all about mindshare and keeps your products or


services in front of your target customer.
All these little things you do to gain mindshare will create a
cumulative effect over time. You companys name will be
mentioned more frequently and people will become curious
and want to know more. The next step will be to move the
discussion from the hotel meeting room to inside the
company and get in front of the key decision makers.
Youre on your way to winning back the business.

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Chapter Notes:

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Prometheus ignored the warnings of the Gods


about giving man fire (light) and suffered for
his disobedience. In business, you must find
a Prometheus within a company who will take
forth the light of innovation and change
regardless of the consequences.

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Strategy #5
Finding a Champion
One common thread weaving throughout this book is the
endorsement of creating constructive discontent if you are
to oust your competitor. Showing people the data that your
product or service is better is often not enough since there
may be an emotional component tied into sticking to the
status quo. Thats your biggest enemy, contentment with
the status quo.
Every message needs a delivery system.

The most

effective delivery system for getting your message into the


corporate body is a champion, an advocate who strongly
believes in your product and is willing to help you
(ethically) get the opportunity to have your voice heard and
product or service tested. When I thought of Bill getting
back in to win the business, I knew for a fact that one of his
key strategies would be to find an inside champion.
A champion has the following characteristics, so theyre
easy to spot:
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Has tried your product or service

Believes it to be better than what theyre currently


using

Is a person in position of some power

Really understands the product and the value it


brings to the company

Understands the cost of not making the change

Forward-thinking

The most important characteristic of a good internal


champion is being unafraid to challenge the status quo.
This person is willing to buck the system to make things
better for his company.

He is willing to say that the

emperor has no clothes.


The best way to identify a champion is to look for someone
in the company who has already tried your product and is
in a position to recommend it to the decision makers.
Another place to find champions is at your information
seminar or a presentation youve done at the targeted
company. You can identify these champions because they
are inquisitive, asking a lot of penetrating questions.
Theyre usually forward-thinking people who like to be on
the leading edge of progress.
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that in their own business they have to stay competitive and


that staying competitive means always being on the lookout
for a best-in-class product.
Understanding Lines of Influence
Finding a champion or an advocate can sometimes be the
easy part of the job. The tough part is finding a champion
who is high enough in the hierarchical food chain and has
the power or influence to make things happen.

So what

happens when you find a champion but that champion has


limited influence into the decision making process?

Let

me suggest a plan of attack often called Lines of Influence.


Heres how it works:
The first step is to get an idea of whos who in the target
company. Then lay out on a piece of paper a hierarchy or
organizational chart showing the chain of command (i.e.
direct reports).
The next step is to make sure that youve clearly identified,
through conversations with employees, who makes the final
decision when it comes to changing over to a new product.
Once you understand who the decision makers are, the next
step is to look at the organizational chart one more time and
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begin understanding who the indirect decision makers are.


In every company there are people with titles and then there
are people who actually influence or make the important
decisions. Fore example, the Chief Technology Officer
may be one level down from the CEO and may make all the
key decisions concerning the companys technology, but he
or she may rely on a lower level director, managers or
engineers to suggest which technologies will be the best fit
for the company.
People in an organization who have indirect influence but
not C-Level titles can be just as important, if not more so,
as someone with a more impressive title. The lesson here is
that titles are important, but they are not true indicators of a
persons power and influence within the corporate
structure.
Print out a copy of the organizational chart on a piece of
paper and study it. What I then want you to do is to draw a
red line between people with strong relationships in the
company.

I refer to these lines as indirect lines of

influence.

People who have strong relationships with

those in power may also have the power to suggest or


influence the decision makers. Drawing out the direct lines

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of influence on an organizational chart gives you a better


understanding of how the company really functions.
Its always reassuring to remember that an organization is
an organism. There are many moving parts which both
directly and indirectly affect the corporate body.

This

means that you can attack the organism at many different


places.
Here are some mapping clue strategies to help you build
your organizational chart.
Meetings: As you progress in setting up meetings and
presentations, keep an out for who actually shows up to the
meetings.

Sometimes you may invite the CTO to a

meeting, and notice that he or she shows up with the


Director of Engineering. This suggests that the Director
has some influencing power with the CTO.
Emails: When you want to send information to a company
via email, its always a good idea to ask the recipient if
anyone else should be copied on the email. If they give
you some names, you now know that there are others
involved in the decision-making process. If you do send
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out an email and you get a reply, notice who else has been
copied on the email. This is another clue to who else may
have influencing power.
People in Public: Its always a good idea to learn the names
of people who are in the public eye representing the
company, whether they do so through writing a white paper
on a new technical innovation or doing a presentation at a
tradeshow., At tradeshows, I always take note of the people
from my target company who are giving a seminar or
keynote speech. These people most likely were chosen
because of their knowledge and influence in the company.
Even if they do not have a direct line to the people you are
dealing with in that company, dont underestimate the
possibility that they may have indirect lines of influence to
a decision maker. Make every effort to get a few minutes
of their time to discuss their take on the company and how
it functions. The insight could be invaluable. It could also
serve you well when you go back to your target company
and casually mention that you spoke with a particular
person at the tradeshow. Watch for the reaction or level of
interest. It may tell you something about that persons
influence in the group.
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10Ks: I mentioned 10K filings earlier.

Victor Antonio

This is a great

source of information for finding out who is who at the top


level of the corporation. Understanding how your target
companys business works and how they are doing
financially can give you an idea of who may be pulling the
strings from the top. During a meeting with the target
company, its always good to drop some information or
insight youve garnered from the 10K filing to show them
that you have taken the time to try to understand their
business. More importantly, you know who the key players
are in management. Use this as an excuse to probe for
more details as to who has the final say in certain matters.
There are many ways to find out who has influence over
whom in a company. It just takes time and energy. This
strategy is particularly effective for salespeople who have
to go after major accounts and need to find a way of
winning back the business. It may take a while to figure
out where to draw the indirect line of influence, but the
more you meet with the companies on your target list, the
more youll come to understand how they function.
The Challenger: The Anti-Champion
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During your investigative process, you may find out that


you are being blocked by a challenger. A challenger is a
person who for some reason does not want you to get into
the company. Challengers are tough to figure out because
sometimes it is very difficult to understand their motivation
for blocking you from getting in. Here are several reasons:

Likes your competitors equipment

Doesnt like change

Change implies more work for them

Change could jeopardize their job security

Has some historical reason for not liking you

Unsure of your companys service or track record

Has a personal relationship with your competitor

There can be many reasons why they are blocking your


entrance into the company. They will do everything to
keep you out if they feel that it threatens them in any of the
ways listed above.
The challengers weapon of choice is the meme. A meme
is an idea or thought that gets in everyones head, but no
one seems to know its origins. Its like a virus that spreads
unchecked. For example, a challenger may make a vague
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statement during a key meeting that he has heard rumors


that your company missed a payment on a loan or was late
paying an invoice. People may hear this and accept it at
face value because of the challengers credibility within the
group.
Do you remember the telephone game when you were in
elementary school, where you whispered something into
one persons ear, and they in turn whisper into the next
persons ear? By the time the message reached the last
person in the class, it was so distorted that it didnt come
close to the original message.
A meme functions similarly.

From this one meeting,

people may spread the verbal virus by mentioning it to their


colleagues. They in turn mention it to their coworkers, and
so on.

Soon you find yourself blocked from making

progress because everyone in the company has heard that


youre going bankrupt.
Someone might mention that they heard Company B had
problems installing your product.

Before you know it,

everyone is under the illusion that your products are failing


all over the world. The truth might have been that the
person who originally reported having problems didnt read
the manual and set up your product incorrectly. But that
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wont matter. By that time the meme has taken on a force


of its own and mutates and propagates within the company.
You need to be very sensitive to any negative hints or
innuendos floating around. Your job is to identify these
memes and then correct them by making sure people
understand the reality of the situation, for example that
youre not going bankrupt and youve had no complaints
from the buyers who have installed the equipment
correctly.
For those of you old enough, remember the Andy Griffith
show about a sheriff in the small town of Mayberry? He
had a deputy named Barney Fife who believed that the only
way to correct bad behavior was to Nip it in the bud.
When it comes to memes, youve got to nip it in the bud
quickly.
Finding a champion in a company who will be a goodwill
ambassador for you will help counteract this effect.

good champion will help by monitoring and correcting


misperceptions about your company before they spiral into
absurdity.

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Chapter Notes:

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No two studies are ever alike because they


suffer from subjectivity and bias. Which study
is right is a matter of who has a prettier
presentation and who people believe the
most.

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Strategy #6
Fund a Study
Years ago, I was having one of those years that all
salespeople dream about. You know the type of year: the
customer is happy, your product is well embedded into
their company, the budgets for the next few years have
been approved, and your personal compensation for your
company is allowing you to maximize on commission
without a revenue cap (i.e., you can make as much as you
like on what youre selling). I have to admit, I was fat,
dumb and happy.
Then I received a very big wake-up call.

My largest

customer wanted me to come in and see him to discuss


some projects for next year. I remember driving over and
thinking, Wow. Maybe there is something else he wants
to look at buying from our product line. On the drive over
I was starting to count my blessing and my future
commissions.

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When I got to the front desk, the secretary asked me to


follow her to the conference room. To my surprise, there
were three other people in the room with my contact, the
Chief Technical Officer (CTO). As soon as I walked in the
chatter stopped and went down to low murmurs.
Something didnt feel right.
Victor, said the CTO, I wanted to talk to you about
which products and services were looking at rolling
into next year.
Sounds good. How can I help?
Well, during our budget review, our purchasing agent
brought to my attention and the committees attention a
recent report that is extremely informative and wed
like to discuss it with you.
Sure, I said one octave above my normal tone,
feeling uneasy about the way he was addressing me.
The CTO wasnt usually so formal.

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He then went on to explain what was in the report. The


report contained what seemed to be an exhaustive study
on their companys current market with figures on
expected growth, competition, price points, evolving
technology and strategies for survival.
As he spoke, he pointed to the report in front of him
which measured about one inch in height. I estimated it
had to be between 100 and 150 pages.
Victor, in this report are included other companies
that offer similar products to the one we are buying
from you, along with Average Sales Price (ASP). I
believe a few of these companies are your competitors
and you may know them.
He rattled off a few names from the list and I nodded,
begrudgingly acknowledging that I was indeed aware of
who they were.
The report also includes a comparative analysis
(Authors note: Sound familiar? See Strategy 1) of
your products compared to those in the market. I was
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unaware of a lot of this information, which is why we


are going to put all purchase orders on hold and delay
finalizing the budget until we can digest this new
information.
Okay. Do you have an idea of how long this review
process might take? I said, scrambling to regain some
semblance of control over the timeline.
Well, I think the first step is to invite some of these
other companies to come in and present their products.
So over the next few weeks we will do that. We will
send you a date and time for you to come in and also
have the opportunity to do a presentation on your
product.
Wow! To end this nightmare right here for you, I went
from being on top of the world to being just another vendor
who had to come in and do the dog-and-pony show (i.e.,
presentation). I couldnt believe it. I walked out of there
stunned. I drove back to the office stunned. I even slept
stunned!

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I was now going to have to fight to get back in against my


competitors. I was in deep trouble. I was about to go from
sales hero to sales zero. How was I going to tell my boss
we might be on the verge of losing one of our largest
accounts? That account equaled 40% of the total sales
revenue for the current year.
Later that day, after regaining my composure, I called the
CTO at the company. He apologized for not warning me
ahead of time, but he was just as surprised when he
received the report from the purchaser that day. I ask him
if it would be possible to get a copy of the report. He
hesitated, but I eventually talked him into giving me a
copy.
Why the Squirrel Kept Winning
Before I go any farther, I think now would be a good time
to tell you the famous squirrel story that I share at my
seminars. I had the good fortune (or misfortune depending
on your perspective) to live in Minnesota for ten years. The
summers were beautiful, fall was spectacular with the
changing colors of the leaves on trees and winter was, well,
damn cold.

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My neighbor, Harold, was a nice old guy who had retired


many years ago and loved to garden during the summer and
hibernate in his house during the winter. The only time I
saw Harold come out of his house was to put some bird
food in the feeder hed set up in his front yard.
Every year, before winter started to set in, I would see
squirrels all around our front lawn gathering food for the
winter.

Theyd scurry around digging and prodding,

hoping to fill their jowls with food and return to their holes.
One day, I saw Harold putting some metal sheets around
the base of the tree where he kept his bird feeder. I didnt
understand why until another neighbor explained to me that
Harold was trying to keep the squirrels from eating the bird
food. By putting the metal sheets around the base Harold
thought the squirrels wouldnt be able to climb up the tree.
The next morning, the food was gone.
Later I saw him wrap a jagged funnel around the base of
the tree. It was like the collars that go around a dogs neck
to prevent it from licking wounds, wrapped around the tree
with the wide part pointing down with jagged edges. It
looked like something from a Frankenstein flick. Yet, the
next day, the food was gone.

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The following week Harold tried putting the bird feeder on


a string and hanging it from the tip of one of the branches.
I believe his idea was that the squirrel couldnt go out to the
edge of the branch because it wouldnt support the weight
thereby not allowing the squirrel to get to the feeder. The
next day, sure enough, the food was gone.
This battle between Harold and the squirrel went on for at
least the ten years that I was his neighbor. I wanted to tell
Harold that his attempts were futile and that he would never
win this War of the Feeder, but I didnt say anything. I
just watched.
As this was happening, I started to think about how unfair
the match-up was between a man and a squirrel.

Yes,

Harold was stronger and smarter than the squirrel. But


Harold lacked the one quality that would guarantee him
success: focus.
You see, Harold thinks about ways of preventing the
squirrel from getting the food when he has time. On the
other hand, the squirrel has its mind on getting that food 24
hours a day. The squirrels very survival depends on it
getting the food. Survival brings about not just focus, but
an intense focus on solving a problem or removing an
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a-day commitment and intensity, my moneys on the


squirrel.
Success is not about who is stronger or who has more
money.

Success is about who is more focused and

committed to achieving their objectives.


Now, back to my sales dilemma.
When I saw the report, I have to admit, it was impressive.
A lot of work had gone into pulling this report together, and
it was unusually focused. Usually a marketing or product
report is an overview of the competitive landscape
highlighting market share, total available market (TAM),
competitors, and what technology or service would be
dominating in the upcoming year.
This report I was looking at was a little different. It was as
focused only on a particular market niche: ours.

My

stomach started to turn as I started to notice that a lot of the


product and feature sets were either wrong or omitted
altogether.

Yet, I noticed that the information on one

competitors product was up to date and was highlighted


and cited quite often in the report.

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I didnt recognize the name on the report, so I decided to


find out a little more about them and maybe call them to
find out how the study was conducted. I was familiar with
many top research companies, but I hadnt heard of this
group.

I went on the internet to do some research.

Eventually I came across the companys name and read a


bit about their background.
The first thing that jumped out at me when I saw their
website was the lack of content and information on who
they were and what they did. The second thing that struck
me as a coincidence was the location of the company. This
company who did the study was located in the same city
and state as the competitor company that was mentioned
frequently in the report and awarded high marks.
The more I searched the website, the more I began to
question the objectivity of that report.

I tried to get

someone on the line, but I only got voicemail and no one


ever returned my calls.
I later found out that the report was sponsored in part by a
competitor I had managed to block from getting in the
company. They used this small consulting company as a
front for doing their dirty work.

Although there was

nothing invalid in the report, the amount of missing


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information that would have shown our product was as


good

as

the

competitors,

if

not

superior,

was

conspicuously missing. Lying by omission? Could be, but


I couldnt prove it.
Eventually they did manage to get some of their products
into the company, but not enough to damage my sales too
badly. But from that day on, I never got complacent with
any of my major accounts. That experience taught me a
new sales strategy I had never seen before. Here are some
takeaways from this experience:

Anyone can sponsor a report.

Find a consulting company in your market segment


to do it for you.

Once something is on paper, you have to either


defend it or refute it with proof.

Once the report is completed, get it into the right


hands.

People believe reports.

Sadly, some wont even

question them.

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Chapter Notes:

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Find creative ways to get in front of potential


clients. Dont wait for them to come to you.

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Strategy #7
Tradeshow Tactics
As a salesman, I really love tradeshows. Where else can
you get a look at your competition and learn so much about
whats going on in the industry? Where else can you get a
high concentration of decision makers whove congregated
for the purpose of buying and selling? Tradeshows are like
the modern-day grand bazaars where merchants meet to
exchange ideas (valuable information) and their wares
(tomorrows technology or solution).
The Psychology of a Tradeshow
Let me take a moment to talk about what mentally happens
to people who go to tradeshows, because I think it will
give you valuable insight as to what they are thinking and
how you may sell to them.
A tradeshow is just that, a place where you trade shows.
Each vendor is trying to garner the attention of potential
buyers they may or may not be targeting. Many companies
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go to tradeshows to target certain companies. In doing so,


they come armed to the teeth.
marketing people are there.

Their top sales and

The tradeshow booth is

carefully designed to ensnare an unsuspecting potential


client. The executives or decision makers of the companies
are there to meet other heavy hitters or simply to support
their top salespeople in closing some fantastic deal. This is
what tradeshows are all about.

They are all hype and

hopefully, all substance.


A tradeshow floor when it gets going reminds me of a stock
market bullpen when traders are yelling their buy or sell
orders.

Instead of yelling, at tradeshows you see folks

manning their position in their booths ready to demonstrate


why their equipment is the best and ready to fend off any
attacks on their product or service.
A tradeshow is a place where new relationships are formed.
Thats the key to tradeshows.

Youre going there to

establish new leads and reconnect with old, faithful


customers to let them know you are still in the game.
When you understand and internalize what Ive just stated,
you will easily conclude that a tradeshow is the ideal place
to take business away from your competition. This chapter
describes some of the many tactics you can use.
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Which Tradeshows to Attend


I need to point out that there is a great difference between a
tradeshow and a conference. Conferences are tradeshows
without the tradeshow floor of companies exhibiting. A
conference usually has a defined purpose where speakers
from top companies or consultant firms come in to discuss
the latest trends and outlook in a given market. The same
level

of

enthusiasm and

willingness

to

exchange

information exists as in tradeshows, but without the


distraction of the tradeshow floor. This could be good or
bad depending, on your perspective
There are three ways to find out which tradeshow your
customer or potential client will be attending. The first is
to visit your top clients website. Many companies will
post all the upcoming industry tradeshows or conferences
that they will be attending.

Usually, the website

announcement will have a direct link back to the


tradeshows main web page, where you can peruse the list
of other companies who have signed up to exhibit at the
tradeshow as well.
A second place to find out what tradeshows are going on
through out the United States or the world is by logging on
to www.TSNN.com.

Trade Show Network News is to

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tradeshows what Google or Yahoo are to search engines.


The great thing about TSNN is that you can refine your
searches by industry and geographical location.
Industry magazines are the third source of information for
finding out which tradeshows are worth investigating.
Most upcoming tradeshows market aggressively and youll
be able to find their ads quickly in industry magazines.
Again, theres usually a link back to the site where youll
find a list of exhibitors, which may or may not include your
customer.

Lets assume for the purpose of this

conversation that the list includes companies whose


business you want to win.
Preemptive Launch
Once you decide on a tradeshow(s) to focus on, the second
part of the tradeshow strategy is to list which companies
youre going to target and which key decision makers are
going to be attending. In order to begin, I suggest you pick
the top ten companies you most want to get in front of as
your primary focus.
The next step in the preemptive launch is to find out which
key decision makers are attending.

This may be the

toughest part of the assignment. Unless the names of the


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attendees are sent to you after youve registered or listed on


the website, its almost impossible to know who may be
going to the show.
An alternative plan is to call the companies directly. Speak
with your contacts inside the company and ask them who
will be at the tradeshow. If they dont know, they may be
able to find out or at a minimum point you to the person in
charge of coordinating the tradeshow.
Im often asked whether, if you attend a tradeshow, it is
really necessary to have your own exhibit in order to be
effective. The answer is a clear yes. Its always best to
have a place to meet with your customer. Think of your
exhibit at a tradeshow as setting up shop in a remote
location. By inviting your potential client to your booth
area, you can establish a home turf advantage from which
you can put your best foot forward.
Once you find out what key decision makers are going to
attend, the next step is to arrange a time slot to talk to them
at the tradeshow. The best way of doing this is the old
fashioned way, pick up the phone.
When I call a potential client, I let them know that I too
will be at the tradeshow and that it would be a good time

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for us to meet. A brief phone call to a potential client may


go something like this:
Bob, this is John with ABC Company. I know
weve been trying to meet, but our schedules
havent worked out.

I see youre going to be

attending the Widget Show in Las Vegas. I will be


attending as well. Id like to spend 15 minutes or so
with you at your booth or ours so we can discuss
some of the new (fill in new product or service here)
we have that will (fill in benefit).

How does

(Tuesday) at (10 a.m.) at your booth sound?


A tradeshow usually lasts two to three days. It has been
my experience that if its a three-day event, the second day
is usually when the real business takes place. Here is how
three day tradeshows add up in terms of business getting
done:
Day 1: Investigative Mode Attendees of the event
are getting oriented.

There is a lot of walking

around and working schedules on site to see what


exhibits to visit and what seminars to attend. On
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this day you should get a steady flow of traffic


through your booth.
Day 2: Strategic Mode This is the day when
things really start to get a little serious. Attendees
have had their stroll around the tradeshow, chatted
with others in the industry, attended a few seminars
and have visited booths of interest. Now they want
to move beyond the investigative mode and go
deeper into conversation about how you may be
able to help them.
Day 3: Logistical Mode Companies who really
want to do business with you will now push harder
on getting a date set after the tradeshow to meet
with you and move the conversation out of the
tradeshow and into their corporate office. This is
good news.
If you give it some thought, this three-day model plays out
much like a sales funnel.

Initially you have a lot of

suspects milling around like ants trying to see whether or


not youre a good fit for them. On the second day, they
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begin to qualify themselves after getting a sense of what


you have to offer and how you might help them.

By the

third day, they are ready to either do business with you or


not.

The last day creates a sense of urgency for all

attendees to get something accomplished (e.g., follow-up


meetings, product demos on site, presentations, etc.) before
the ride back home.
Armed with this understanding of the dynamic, you can see
that it is key that you position your company to get in front
of key decision makers on the first day, when they are still
in the investigative mode. Coming in on the second day
may put you at a disadvantage if your competition met with
them before you did.

You may find yourself trying to

either defend your position or answer questions such as


why are you better than your competitor.

A friend of

mine once said that if you find yourself explaining your


position, youre losing the conversation.
A preemptive strategy is to set up a meeting at least a
month ahead of the tradeshow with a potential client whose
business you want to win back. Is a month ahead too long?
Absolutely not!
The ideal situation would be to arrange a meeting with the
client at your booth and then maybe set up an after-hours
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get-together. This could be something as casual as a cup of


coffee at the hotel restaurant or a before-dinner drink at the
lobby bar.

Having an informal sit-down with the key

decision maker can accelerate a sale. I truly believe that


people buy from people they like. Of course, this doesnt
mean that if you have a great personality but a lousy
product or service, people will buy. The assumption here is
that you have a product of value that the customer can use.
If they get to know you and like you, they will be more
inclined to do business with you. Keep in mind that your
competitor knows this as well and is probably wining and
dinning the customer as well so that you cant win the
business back.
Most people got to a tradeshow with the hope strategy.
This is where you hope youll run into a key decision
maker or you hope a client youve been wanting to attract
happens to stop by and fall in love with your product. We
all know that hope is not a strategy for success. So lets
make luck happen instead. Heres what I recommend.
I use a spreadsheet to plan all my meetings and activities
before I go to a tradeshow.

Now if you use other

management programs like Microsoft Outlook, ACT, or


Goldmine they have a scheduling page where you can input
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your meeting information and print out an itinerary for the


tradeshow.
Here is a sample of the spreadsheet I use to begin preparing
for the tradeshow one month out.

Time
7am 8am

Day 1
Meet with X
client for
Breakfast

8am
9am
9am
10am

3pm
4pm
4pm
5pm
5pm
6pm

Day 3

Notes

Meet X client
at Starbucks
in the hotel

Discuss new
product and
pricing

Attend white
paper
presentation
by X client

10am
11am
12 pm
1pm
1pm
2pm
2pm
3pm

Day 2

Lunch with X
client

Meeting
with
President of
X company

Cocktail hour
with Vice
President of X

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Objective is
to set up a
meeting in
his office
after the
tradeshow

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The overall objective is to fill in as many time slots with as


many meetings as you can arrange.

Remember, your

primary focus at a tradeshow is not to have fun, but to do


business and do it aggressively. Its okay to reconnect with
colleagues and friends to reminisce about how great things
use to be, but dont forget the real reason youre at the
show: to win the business back from your competitor.
Ive known too many salespeople who attend tradeshows
and think of it as a great big social event. They spend so
much of their time visiting with friends that they lose sight
of the real reason theyre there: to generate new leads and
close deals.
Some will manage to squeeze in some meetings to assuage
any guilt about not doing business. These are the same
people who will go home empty-handed, with no new leads
or meetings set up, and complain later that their quota is too
high or lament the fact that no one is buying anything in the
market.

This sales whine is known as the Its the

economy, stupid excuse. If they cant blame themselves,


the economy is always an easy scapegoat for their
ineptitude.

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A tradeshow is about business. It should be seen as an


event that you can leverage to gain the competitive edge on
your competition. Dont forget that!
Teeing up Success: The Tradeshow Booth
Your tradeshow booth (display and demos) should strongly
promote your companys capabilities. It is the marketing
departments job to condense the company message into a
large piece of real estate that highlights clearly and
concisely what you do and how you do it better than
anyone else. Little time is often given to the design and
layout of a booth. Most see it as a last minute thing to get
done. Wrong!
I also want to remind you to not let the marketing
department control how the booth is set up and what should
be in it without input from the sales team. Who is closer to
the customer, the salesperson or the behind-the-desk
marketing wizard? As a salesperson you need to make sure
you have input in deciding what should be displayed and
promoted. You know your customers and their hot buttons
best.
Setting up a booth is like preparing the field for an
intellectual battle. When your potential clients come to
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your booth, you aim is to mentally assault them with great


information and visually satisfy them with conceptual ideas
that will excite and motivate them into wanting to do
business with you.
Every effective sales booth at a tradeshow should be able to
answer these simple questions even for someone who is
unfamiliar with your company:

Who you are

What you do

What you have to offer

How you can help your client

Can you show me?

Recall my friends statement: if you find yourself


explaining yourself, youre losing the conversation.
If someone passes by your booth and cant figure out what
you do, youve failed.

A potential deal may have just

walked past your booth because your message wasnt:

concise

descriptive

exciting

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new

How many times has someone come into your tradeshow


booth and asked, What do you do?

Youre probably

thinking that the answer is Too many. Getting the


message right is key to attracting potential customers.
Assuming you have the message right, you may still have
people ask you, What do you do? Heres a sample booth
script that you should work on and commit to memory:
We are a ______________________ company and
we specialize in _______________________ by
offering ________________________________ for
companies who need ________________________.
Let me show you what I mean.
Youll note that this script answers the five basic questions
listed above clearly and concisely. Number 5 is the most
important. People can read; what they want you to do is
show them how you can help them.
Booth demonstrations are vital to winning back business
from competitors. Its your 15 minutes of fame to prove to

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your potential client that they should be doing business


with you.
If youre a service provider, the best booth demonstration
you can deliver is one where you have either samples or
testimonials from clients who have been very happy with
your work. If youre a marketing company, you may want
to show them some of your material. If youre a research
company, you want to show them the types of reports you
produce for your clients. These materials should be well
packaged and of high print quality.
If youre a manufacturer, then the best booth presentation is
a live demonstration.

This is where you can let the

customer touch and play with the equipment

or

merchandise. Theres nothing like seeing something work


in front of you. I dont recommend using static gear
(equipment that doesnt work and is only for show) in your
booth. Manufacturers like to see things working. You
many not get another chance to put your product in front of
a decision maker. Its worth the time, money and hassle to
have live gear in your booth.
Ive heard companies say that its too expensive to have
live gear in their booth. My response is always, how much
will it cost you not to have it in your booth? During a
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three-day tradeshow, one booth demo could be seen by as


many 30-50 customers. How much would it cost you to fly
a salesperson or manager to 30-50 sites to do demos?
Economies of scale are in place when it comes to doing live
demos at a tradeshow. The only exception is equipment
that is either too large to be moved or not transportable at
all.
Getting a key decision maker to stop by your booth so that
you can perform a live demo should be the main objective
of your planning. This may be the only time you will be
able to get in front of them, and theres nothing your
competition can do about it.

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Chapter Notes:

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Find ways to position yourself as an expert.


Clients want to surround themselves with
people who can help them sort out the future
of their business.

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Strategy #8
Whitepapers
Whether youre in a high tech field or youre a low tech
service provider, you need to write a white paper on what is
happening in your industry and what new trends may be
coming down the road.

I emphasize the word may

because I want you to start seeing yourself as an expert in


your industry. I want you to believe that your opinion
about what is happening in your industry counts. I dont
want you to hold back your opinion because you dont
think its valid, or to wait around for someone to validate
your opinion on where the industry is going. There are a
lot of experts who get things wrong. Your opinion, if you
are educated on the subject, is just as valid as theirs.
Putting together a white paper that pertains to your industry
gives you visibility. More importantly, it starts to give you
credibility among your peers in the industry.
My experience in sales has taught me that great salespeople
have a good nose for where the industry is going and what
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trends need to be followed. A salesperson deals with the


frontlines of business and hears firsthand what people are
saying about what is right and wrong with business.
As a salesperson, you need to start putting your thoughts
down on paper. You may consider presenting a paper on
your product and where you think the technology or service
industry is going.
Tradeshow Submission
Once youve written this white paper, submit it to industry
tradeshows for consideration for the next event where
breakout sessions are planned to hear key speakers discuss
new trends. Why cant that be you? Id rather listen to an
educated salesman on the frontline than an engineer or
designer who never sees customers, or beyond the edge of
his or her desk, for that matter.
If your white paper is accepted, invite your top customers
to come and see you present your views about your
industry.

Whether they show up is less important than

communicating to others that you are a serious business


person and not just some schmuck salesperson.
Another benefit of having your white paper accepted is the
circulation or publicity you and your company will get.
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Usually at tradeshows, the white papers are distributed in a


collection of white paper that goes to all the attendees.
These attendees include the businesses or companies you
are trying to reach to win their business.
The white paper may also be plastered on the tradeshow
website for all to see. Each white paper typically includes a
byline, a brief description of the paper and the person who
wrote it, along with the company's contact information.
Again, this is more publicity for you.
The white paper may also be featured in the tradeshow
program. If you have an opportunity to present the white
paper, you can get in front of potential buyers who are
interested in that subject.
After the tradeshow, you can take that white paper and
have it printed with some snazzy graphics into a nice
brochure

with

your

company

name

and

contact

information. Take that brochure after the tradeshow and


mail it to your existing customers and potential clients you
are trying to win over.
Internet Marketing
You can also post the white paper as a Portable Digital File
(.pdf) on your companys website where new visitors can
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download it and read for free.

Victor Antonio

Most people transfer their

papers to a .pdf file so that no one can alter the document


without the authors permission.
Heres a great internet marketing tip for you to consider.
On your computer, right-click on the file containing your
paper without actually opening it. You should see a pop-up
box where one of the options is Properties. Click on
Properties. You should see a menu with a couple of tabs
(typically General and Summary). The General tab
gives you information about the file itself (name, size, etc.).
Click on the Summary tab.

After clicking on it you

should see something that looks like this:

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As you can see, there are several fields that can be filled
out with key information about the white paper. Each of
these fields is important and should be filled out
appropriately. Pay particular attention to the field titled
keywords. This is very important. When a .pdf file is
posted on your companys website, anyone who searches
for those keywords through a search engine may find your
white paper.
Search engines can look inside the files properties, register
the keywords and actually rank your site or paper based
on its content. If someone uses a search engine to look for
keywords youve chosen in your document, your paper
may be one of the top-ranking search results.
If an executive or decision maker of a potential client
company decides to do a search on a certain keyword, he or
she may find your white paper. They may read it and give
you a call to talk to you about it or pass it on to someone in
the company. Either way, your name and your companys
name get some recognition.
Magazines

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Finally, submitting your white paper to industry magazines


is another way to get your name in front of potential clients.
You may have to alter or reduce the size of the paper, since
many magazines only publish articles in the 800-word
range. Many industry magazines have huge circulations,
which is another way that this same white paper can be
used as free advertisement for your company. A typical
article of 800 words may take up one or two pages. If you
were to attempt to buy just one full page ad, you would
probably be looking at a cost of thousands of dollars.
Each of these strategies is what I like to call an adder.
Writing a white paper is not the killer application or
document that is going to get you all the business you ever
wanted. But each time someone is exposed to your white
paper, your credibility and visibility begin to add up.

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Chapter Notes:

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To win the business back, getting in the door


is half the battle. The other half is exceeding
the clients expectations so they feel
compelled to do business with you.

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Strategy #9
Demos: The Point of the Spear
Earlier I talked about tradeshows and how you can leverage
these events to get customers to come view your equipment
at your booth.

The follow-up move is to get demo

(demonstration) gear into their facility so they can start to


see how great your equipment is compared to the
equipment theyre currently using from your competitor.
Although this chapter will focus on getting demo
equipment into a clients facility, it may also serve as a
guide on offering new services.
Getting a demo inside a company is not easy and can be
very costly and time-consuming. You have to determine
whether its worth the effort.

Here are some common

objections you will have to overcome in order get your


demo inside.
Time to Test
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Many new clients are resistant to take on the challenge of


doing an onsite demo because of the amount of time they
perceive it will take to achieve testing.
Cost to Switch Over
A big question in the customers mind when considering a
product change is the cost of switching from one product to
another. A good example of this would be changing a
product that is quite popular in the company already. Not
only do you have to consider changing the product, you
also have to consider additional costs which I call the
Derivatives of Changeover.
For example, when you want to sell a customer a
replacement product, you have to also realize that there will
be many added costs, including:

Instruction manuals

Training materials

Part number system

Invoice system

Product drawings

Website changes

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The cost savings of a changeover has to be so substantial


that dealing with the above costs will be worth the time,
money and effort invested in changing over.
Allocation of Resources
Every demo or testing of new equipment requires the
allocation of resources.

In todays business world, the

number one concern is cost. Employees of a company are


under more pressure today and perform more than one
function in their roles. When the decision to do a demo of
new equipment is being made, a prime concern is who will
do the demo and who will handle the logistics to make sure
all aspects of the demonstration process are managed
properly.
Impact on current system or personnel
Another variant of the allocation resource problem is the
impact that the demo will have not only on the people
charged with managing the demonstration process, but also
the impact it may have on productivity. For example, if
some part of the manufacturing system has to be allocated
to performing the demonstration test, how will that loss of

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capacity impact the overall ability of the company to meet


its current production demands?
Rock the Boat
Many psychologists say that it takes 21 days to form a new
habit. Imagine that a company youre trying to penetrate
has worked with your competitor's equipment for 21
months or more.

By that time, using the competitors

equipment has become a hard-wired habit that may be


difficult to change. Employees or middle management may
be resistant to change, not because they dont believe your
equipment is better, but because they have formed a habit
that they do not wish to break. The path of least resistance
is to keep doing the things youve always been doing the
same way.
Each of these objections can be overcome with some
planning and research on your part. Lets look at each one
a little closer. I have devised some strategies that you can
use to overcome these objections. Lets assume that the
client already understands the value you have to offer.
Your job now is to convince them to say yes to a
demonstration.
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Time to Test
The concern is obviously the length of time it will take to
test the product or service. A good starting point is to first
define upfront how long the demonstration is going to last.
Anything worth doing is worth taking the time to do
properly, and this is important enough to schedule in detail.
You also have to make sure the client isnt feeling trapped
by making this commitment to an onsite demonstration.
Many salespeople forget the aspect of human nature that
motivates people to put off taking action in order to avoid a
conflict in the future. This is especially true for clients who
may be risk averse. At any sign of risk or conflict, they
may refuse to agree to an in-house demo. Its important to
state up front what the terms and conditions are so that
there are no weird feelings about what may happen after the
demo is over. You may want to try to use a script like this
to convince a customer that you are there to help.
John, to really get a good feel for how well our
product works and can help you, we have found that its
best to use the product for two weeks. We can have the
product delivered and installed by either Tuesday the
10th or Tuesday the 17th and have the product demo
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completed in exactly two weeks. At that time we will


pick up the equipment and you are under no obligation
to buy. The risk is all on our side.
If you read the script again you will note that the only
undue pressure I put on the client was to decide on a date to
begin the demonstration. It is key that you put a stake in
the ground in terms of a start date. Too often, salespeople
who are afraid to ask for a date find themselves waiting
months for the client to find a date.
Cost to Switch Over
The cost of switching over is probably the toughest
obstacle to overcome because calculating the number itself
can have a big subjective impact. As I mentioned earlier,
the cost of changing to a new product or service requires
changes to the internal system of the client to reflect the
new products.
For example, if a company buys a new product, all the
documentation, order entry system information, marketing
material, training and so on have to be redone.

This

process has costs associated with it that may impact the


decision to agree to the demo in the first place.
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At this point, you have to stop being a salesperson, put on


your client hat, and think like they do.

How will this

impact your internal system? When you get a feel for what
may happen, you can then find a way to dismiss the
objection.
The best way to go about this is to really talk to the client
about what things may have to change if a buy decision is
made. Most sales strategies recommend NOT bringing up
these issues until after the demo is complete.

Each

strategy has its own inherent risk. If you bring up these


issues before the demo, you may spook them into not
wanting to do the demo at all.
On the other hand, if you wait until after the demo, it is
most likely that the customer will raise these issues. By
that time it may be too late; youve wasted the company's
time and money with a demo that never really had a chance
of getting off the ground. A customer may say:
John, the demo has been working great and weve
begun to talk internally about moving forward. Our
concern is the amount of work and effort its going
to take to change over. Well have to get back to
you after weve had some internal meetings.
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At this point you are stuck on the outside looking in,


wondering when and if theyll meet. If they do meet, you
wont be there to assuage their concerns or help them work
through their issues.
A strong salesperson would have brought up these issues
upfront and throughout the sales in order to help resolve
them with the clients input.
Remember one of the basic tenets of selling: If you bring
up the issue, you own it. You can choose to easily address
it and you can dismiss it with the same degree of ease. If a
customer brings up the issue, you no longer own it and are
now forced to defend or explain yourself.
If a client is afraid of the cost of switching over, use your
past experience with other clients to assuage their concerns.
Become the client: think like them, then answer their
concerns in their language. This is where you move from
salesperson to sales consultant and guide them through the
process of change. How comfortable you make them feel
with the change will be a major factor in whether they will
move forward with the demo and eventually buy your
product.
The Tail From Under the Tent
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Id like to tell you a story I heard many years ago from a


Chief Financial Officer (CFO) that helped me empathize
with the fear buyers have when making a key decision that
may impact their cost.
I was the sales vice-president in a Fortune 500 company
and my sales teams in the field were in desperate need of
some new laptop computers.

I went to the office of the

CFO, Steve, to speak with him personally about this. The


conversation went like this:
Me: Steve, I came to talk to you about getting some new
computers for your sales team.
Steve: Now isnt a good time to talk about spending a
lot of money.
Me: Steve, with you finance guys, its never a good time
to talk about spending money.
Steve: I got your email, Victor, and Im just afraid of
the cost to switch everyone over to a new computer.
Me: Steve, I wouldnt be asking if it werent a real
necessity and if my sales team wasnt constantly
complaining about not being able to run our own
software applications for client demos. My God, man,
its only 70 laptops.
Steve: No, Victor, its not just 70 laptops. Thats just
the tail coming out from under the tent.
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Me: What? What tail? What the heck does that mean?
Steve: To me, the cost of the laptop represents a tail
coming out from under a tent. My biggest fear is
whats under the tent. To you its only 70 laptops. To
me its more than that. I have to consider the following
cost:

New software licenses for all the laptops.

Installation time from our tech department for the


upgrades.

Do we have enough techs to support more laptops


in the field or do we have to hire more?

Shipping the laptops to the field.

Renewing
contracts.

How do we handle repairs in the field: do we ship


them back? If so, should we have spares to use
while the damaged computer is being fixed?

Network access cards and allocation of VPNs for


remote access.

If theyre going to be dialing in from the field,


how much is that going to cost us in terms of
network access?

corporate

laptop

maintenance

Steve: You see, Victor, to you its just 70 laptops. But


thats just the tail from under the tent. Im afraid that
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under that tent there is an elephant that represents the


bigger cost associated with buying the computer. And
thats what you dont see and why Im hesitant to say
yes to your request.
Id like to tell you that I had a great comeback to Steves
analogy, but I didnt. With this simple analogy, he helped
me grasp for the first time in my sales career how to think
about long-term costs and not just the immediate cost of a
purchase when it came to buying technology.
It was a valuable lesson that has paid off in dividends by
changing the way I sell to my customers.

This simple

lesson helped me to understand my customers real


concerns more clearly

It wasnt just the initial purchase

cost that concerned them, but the long-term cost of


switching over that was really holding them back from
making a decision on whether to buy from me. I quickly
realized that my job was to pull back the tent of concern
and show them that there really wasnt an elephant attached
to that tail coming out from underneath it.
I think its extremely important to remember that getting a
demo inside a clients facility for the first time is only half
the battle in winning back the business. You still have to
get over the fear of how much its going to really cost to
make that change.
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Allocation of Resources
We need to understand from the client perspective that
internal resources have to be allocated to perform demos.
This may include the logistics of coordinating when the
equipment arrives, who will install, who will do the
evaluation, who will write the report, etc. Time is money,
and having an outside company come in to do a
demonstration onsite will require manpower.
At this point its best to point out to the client that you will
have people onsite to install the equipment. Emphasize
that, based on your vast experience with other demos for
other companies, you may only need one person to help
you coordinate this effort. You must do everything in your
power to assure the client that you will not consume much
of their resources to do the testing.
Its important to keep in mind as youre trying to negotiate
a demo and the accompanying allocation of resources that
you cant use the this will be worth it in the long run pitch
because they havent decided whether they will use your
product.

What you want to emphasize is the ease of

installation and minimal resources required to do the


testing.

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If you have numbers based on other installations, be sure to


use them. For example,
John, over the last few years we've done over 100
installations at companies such as yours with great
ease and success. On average it takes us _____
(hours/days) to complete an installation. We have
found that working with one key person (e.g.,
manufacturing, production, marketing, information
technology, etc.) was usually sufficient for us to
complete the installation quickly.
Clients keep a mental calculus of how much time they think
things will take to get done. By using clear language based
on past experience, you will be able to convince the client
that it wont take as much time as he or she is imagining.
Clients have a tendency to focus on the possibilities of what
could go wrong with the installation and begin imagining
the chaos or disruption it may cause. By reiterating past
experience you will be able to assuage the clients concerns
and assure them that the risk or costs are minimal.

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Objection
Time to Test

Key Points to Emphasize


1) Ask for a start date
2) Define the trial period
3) They are under no obligation to
buy

Cost to Switch Over

4) Discuss the impact of change


with the client
5) Give them the benefit of your
experience with other clients

Allocation of
Resources

6) Someone

onsite

to

install

equipment with training


7) Emphasize past experience
8) Assure client that you wont
need many people to help you
with the install
9) Risk and cost are minimal

4 Key Demo Strategies for Winning Back the Business


There are four key strategies or tactics to consider when
working on getting a demo in a customers facility. Each
strategy requires a different approach and sales angle.
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Strategy #1: Puppy Dog


Were all familiar with this approach. If a customer were
unsure about whether they really wanted to buy a dog, what
a good salesperson would do is to convince the customer to
take the dog home for a day and then decide with no
obligation to buy. You can easily guess what happens: the
dog gets home, the owners enjoy the dogs company and
the next thing you know the dog is part of the family. The
deal is consummated the next day for the purchase of the
dog.
In business, you can use the same approach to win back the
business by allowing a potential client to try your service or
product at no cost or obligation to them. Your hope is that
they will be able to do a side-by-side comparison with the
product theyre currently using and decide to work with
you once they see how warm and cuddly you and your
products are.
The puppy dog approach has one very large caveat to keep
in mind when using it as a sales tactic; make sure your
product works very well or that youre prepared to deliver
excellent service during this trial period.
Ive seen many companies work hard to get their product or
service to a potential customer, only to fall flat on their
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faces because the product had some minor glitches or the


support service was less than stellar.

This would be

equivalent to the owner taking home the puppy, only to


have it proceed to chew up all the shoes in the house and
use every nice piece of carpet as a latrine. Not good.
You may not be able to control the bad habits of a puppy,
but you can control the quality of your products and
services.

So only use the puppy dog strategy if your

product or service is housebroken.


Strategy #2: The Trojan Horse Strategy
The Trojan War went on endlessly between the Greeks and
the Trojans, with no clear winner. Both sides were tired
and frustrated, especially the Greeks, who couldnt
penetrate the walls of Troy.
Then one of the Greek kings, Odysseus, had an idea. "Build
a wooden horse on wheels," he said, "big enough for many
Greek soldiers to hide inside it."
The Greeks did this and then pretended to sail home,
leaving behind the wooden horse with many Greek soldiers
hidden inside. The Greeks wanted to give the illusion that
they had grown frustrated and decided to sail back home.

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Instead, they sailed their boats out of sight and waited for a
signal.
Soon the Trojans found the horse. Nobody knew what it
was, and the Greek soldiers hiding inside kept very quiet.
The Trojans found a Greek soldier hiding nearby, who said
that the other Greeks hated him and had left him behind.
The Trojans asked him what the horse was for, and he told
them that it was an offering to the goddess Athena.
The Trojans didnt want to upset the goddess Athena, so
they decided to roll the big horse into the city of Troy. It
was so big it wouldn't go through the gate, and they had to
tear down a piece of the city wall to get it inside. They left
it at Athenas temple, and then celebrated the end of the
war while the Greeks waited patiently inside the horse.
Finally, after everyone fell asleep, the Greek soldiers came
out of the Trojan Horse and killed the guards on the walls.
They then signaled to the other Greeks on the ship to return
and attack Troy, now that they could get in because the
wall had been torn down. The Greeks won a great battle, all
the Trojan men were killed, and all the women and children
were taken back to Greece as slaves.
It took the Greeks ten years of pounding against a fortified
wall to figure out a clever way of beating the Trojans. In
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business, sometimes getting into a company where your


competitor (enemy) is established can take months if not
years.
If we are to learn anything from the Greeks, we need to
follow their example.

Instead of trying to oust the

competition with a constant frontal attack, a different


strategy may be needed. What product or service can you
offer today that would be a no-brainer for your target
company to try? Sometimes all you need to do is to get one
good product through the gates of the target company.
Once youre in, you can begin to sell other products. Here
are three simple strategies for creating your own Trojan
Horse:

Lower your prices on a product or service so


drastically that a company would be foolish not to
seriously consider it. This is called a loss leader
Ill discuss it in the next section.

Offer a warranty on the product or service that goes


beyond the industry standard. Years ago, a fiveyear car warranty (as opposed to a three-year one)
on a new car was considered out there.

Today

companies are offering ten-year warranties in order


to get market share.
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If you sell a product, offer free installation and


training. If you offer a service, offer a free trial for
a given amount of time, reducing the clients risk..

Strategy #3: The Loss Leader Strategy


This strategy is a combination of the previous two. The
objective here is to sell one of your products or services
cheaply or even at a loss, with the hope of capturing more
business as a result.
In todays market you can see this with desktop printers. A
few years ago, printers were quite expensive. Today, they
are almost giveaways. What happened? Printer companies
realized early on that the business of printing itself was
becoming a commodity, and that generating decent margins
on the products would be difficult to sustain. The real
money was in the print cartridges sold along with the
printers.
Hewlett Packard (HP) has elevated this loss leader concept
to an art form. Go to any major office supply chain and
you will see a handful of HP printers and a wall full of print
cartridge options to choose from. The margins have to be
incredible.

The cost of manufacturing a print cartridge

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must be less than a dollar, yet these cartridges sell for


almost 20 times that amount.
In business, many companies all but give away their
equipment in hopes of winning some other aspect of the
business which will depend on the loss leader. Microsoft is
another good example of using the loss leader approach.
Computer laptops are becoming so inexpensive that its
hard make a profit. Microsoft doesnt want to get into the
computer business; it just wants to sell you all the
expensive software that youll need to be able to effectively
utilize your computer. Although Microsoft doesnt sell or
give away their computers, manufacturers of computers are
willing accomplices in this loss leader scenario.
Strategy #4: Qualification for Vendor Approval Listing
One of my favorite strategies is to ask to be put on the
vendor approval list of a target company. This strategy
works with large corporations who deal with hundreds of
vendors.

Each vendor must go through an approval or

qualification process initiated by an employee of the


company. This employee can be your champion inside to
get this process moving.

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For many companies, this approval process includes


providing demonstration equipment or, if youre a service
vendor, some proof of your work. Many companies have
strict guidelines and expectations for a company and have
rigorous testing and several layers of approvals before
being qualified for the vendor list.
This approach is a non-aggressive tactic that, if done right,
can remain below the radar of your embedded competitor.
The position here is that you are not trying to oust any
existing vendor; you just want to be qualified and put on
their vendor approval list in case one day they may need
another vendor source. Youre not there to change their
procedures or recommend new products; you are simply
offering an alternative in the event that their primary or
secondary vendors fail to deliver.
Again, the key is making a contact with an internal person,
the champion, so that he or she can navigate you through
the sea of bureaucratic policies and procedures so you can
get in.
Once youve been approved as a major vendor, you are
assigned a Vendor Number (VN). Your VN is like a social
security number identifying your company as a legitimate
source from which their company buyers can buy product
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or services. For example, lets say Im a buyer sitting in an


ivory tower, and I get a request from one of my top
managers that they need to buy product X because their
inventory is low. The request is made, but your major
competitor cant fill the complete order. The buyer then
searches for other vendors on the approval list who might
be able to provide the balance for the request.

Voila!

Youre in.
Getting on the vendor approval list has a quasi-Trojan
Horse effect in that once youve been approved to sell to
that company, getting your other products in will be easier.
Claiming that you want to be added to the Vendor
Approval List is a less threatening posture than trying to
convince managers that they should drop their existing
vendor and switch to you.
Winning back the business can be a slow process, but if
done right, over the long run you may get more business
than youd ever imagined.

Using each of these four

strategies, or a combination thereof, will get you in if you


exercise patience and persistence.

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Chapter Notes:

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People remember those who stuck with them


through their tough times. Dont be a fair
weather friend when it comes to selling.
Sometimes patience is your greatest weapon
for ousting a competitor.

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Strategy #10
Hanging Around:
Weather Friend

An

Any-

Earlier I touched on the importance of understanding a


companys budget cycle.

The key question to ask any

company during the getting-to-know-them process is


when their year starts and ends. There are several ways to
ask this question without seeming overly nosy.
In my opinion, there are two major budget cycles one needs
to be aware of: the End-Of-Year (EOY) Budget Cycle and
the End-of-Quarter (EOQ) Budget Cycle.
Ive already discussed the importance of understanding the
EOY Budget Cycle.

The easiest way to determine a

companys EOY Budget Cycle is to ask them directly,


When does the companys calendar year end?
The EOQ Budget Cycle is often ignored or played down,
but in my opinion is critical when it comes to
understanding the psychological and financial mindset of a
potential client whose business youre trying to win.
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Each quarter there are two numbers every company is


concerned with:

How much did we sell?

How much did it cost us to sell it?

Lets look at both sides of the financial equation to


understand how best to approach our customer.
Side A: How Much Did You Sell?
Gauging a companys EOQ target tells the seller how
aggressive the company is. For example, if the company is
on track to hit their EOQ goals, this bodes well for further
investment in growth. Here are some good questions to ask
to without being too direct:
Question: When does your quarter end?
Information Youre Seeking: To find out where we are in
the quarter.

Towards the beginning of the quarter could


mean we are too late to make a sale, since the
plan and projections are set. But it also means
we have time to begin working the customer to
get our product or service in for the upcoming
quarter.

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Towards the end of the quarter may tell us that


were too late and have missed the budget cycle
to get our product or service in for the next
quarter. It tells us that we have to work quickly
if we are to uncover any possibility of making a
sale in the next quarter.

Question: What is your projected sales growth, in


percentage terms, for this quarter compared to last year?
Compared to last quarter?
Information Youre Seeking: When you ask the question
about the current quarters growth compared to last year,
you are looking for a positive trend. If the companys
current quarter is expected to exceed last year, this is good
news from a sales standpoint. Good questions to follow up
with here would be:

Where are you seeing the growth this year?

What did you do differently than last year?

What changes from a product (or service) did


you make over the last year?

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Questions like these are meant to get the client thinking


about the positives of growth, but also to make him or her
feel good about the companys success thus far. This is an
opportunity for a salesperson to segue into discussing a
new product or sales pitch. Clients who have had past
success are more likely to take chances on new products or
services in hopes of continuing their growth.
Side B: How Much Did it Cost?
It goes without saying that even if you have a great sales
quarter, if you continue to spend more than you sell, youre
not going to stay in business for long.
If youve already asked the questions about growth, you
should have a preliminary idea of whether the company is
growing. Lets assume that the results of your questioning
confirmed that the companys revenues have been growing
quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year.
The follow-up to this line of question is to determine
whether the company made any money.

Remember,

growth does not necessarily equal profitability.

companys increased sales dont necessarily mean theyve


made any money. Trying to assess a clients profitability
requires a little more work and tact. If the company is
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private and financial statements (i.e., public reports) are not


available, here are some probing questions you might ask:
Question: Will your company be profitable this year?
Information Youre Seeking: This may sound like a rude
question, but companies expect good salespeople to ask it,
so oblige them by doing so. If a company is profitable, this
bodes well for future sales.

However, if the company

wasnt profitable, dont close your sales book too quickly.


Suppose that the answer to the first question was that the
company will not be profitable this year. Now what?
Question: How do the current financials (losses) compare
to last year?
Information Youre Seeking: Asking a company which is
in a losing year about the comparison with last years
financials will give you an indication of whether the
situation is improving. For example, if in the current year
the company expects to lose one million dollars this year
but had losses of five million dollars last year, this is good
news.

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A good follow-up question to this would be, When does


the company expect to be profitable? This will tell you
everything you need to know about their expectations and
growth plans. Short-term profitability means that they are
expecting good things to start happening very soon. Any
company willing to hang in there with them through this
time period will be in a good position to get long-term
business when the company does become profitable.
If the company says that they are losing more this year than
last year, then this could be a tough sale overall.

No

company likes to take risk or make changes when theyre


losing money year-over-year. The more theyre bleeding,
the more risk averse they become.
Unless theres a good recovery plan in place, you may want
to put this company on the monitor for now list and
revisit them down the road to see how theyre doing.
Sell When Theyre Low
Sometimes the best way to oust an incumbent is to hang in
there with the company even when theyre going through
their tough period. Many companies see a client as a cash
cow and will only visit them or extend them addition
services or credits when they are profitable.
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The best time to win over a company is when they need


you. The first step before employing this strategy is to
ensure that the company is a good bet. A company may be
having a bad year, but with new products or services on the
horizon, next year could be their biggest year yet. If you
play your cards right and help them to achieve their shortterm goals, youll position yourself to ride the wave thats
coming.
Customers have memories like elephants.

They will

remember people who failed them and those that helped


them when they needed help the most.
One of the things we want to avoid as salespeople is
helping companies that have no chance of survival. We
may succeed in getting our competitor out of a particular
company, but whats the point of winning when the entire
corporate ship is sinking?

What you need to do as a

salesperson is evaluate the company, keeping your


emotions (e.g., wanting to win at any cost or betting on a
dying company because we like underdogs) in check.
By asking the tough questions Ive outlined at the
beginning of this chapter, you should be able to evaluate
with clarity and confidence whether to bet on the company.

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In the next chapter Ill discuss several finance strategies


you may be able to use to leverage your relationship with
the company. Companies under financial stress are more
susceptible to changing vendors if the applying vendor can
provide amiable terms and conditions where an incumbent
might be reluctant to do so.

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Chapter Notes:

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Money and time are the two most precious


commodities in any given business. Learn to
help the client manage them using your
product or service in order to win them over.

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Strategy #11
Being Flexible
One of the obstacles youll eventually have to face in any
negotiation is money. The two questions the client wants
answers to almost immediately are how much and how fast.
How much money is this product or service going to cost,
and how fast do I have to pay for it?
I want to take some time in this chapter to discuss financial
options that you may propose to your potential client to
make the buying process less painful, if not a downright
no-brainer.
Pay-As-You-Go
A

pay-as-you-go

financial

strategy

is

fairly

self-

explanatory. There may be deals where the actual order


can be broken up into several deliveries (or deliverables).
Clients looking for an option to buy are always looking for
ways to hang to their money for as long as possible. One

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way of providing this option is to inform the client that they


can pay as they go.
Chief Financial Officers of a company will absolutely love
this strategy.

If you are in a sales fight with another

company, this strategy may give you enough leverage to


win even if you are at a disadvantage (your prices are
higher, competitor is an incumbent, etc.).
The job of a CFO, or any financial officer in a company, is
to accelerate receivables and delay payables. If offering
them a deferred payment based on delivery will let them
hold on to their money a little longer, you can bet theyll be
interested.
This strategy is especially effective in large account sales
where the capital investment is substantial.
Let me give you a variation of the pay-as-you-go strategy
that I used many years ago when selling for a high-tech
telecommunications company. We found ourselves in a
Johnny-Come-Lately scenario where we entered the
bidding process at the last moment. We were initially told
that our bid would not be accepted even if we were
compliant with all the technical requirements. The only
recourse we had was to pen a letter to the committee
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making the decision. In the letter we highlighted, among


other things, that we were willing to be flexible in our
repayment terms and that we would allow for deferred
payment until the system was installed and working.
This strategy caught their attention. It demonstrated that
not only were we serious about winning back the business,
we were so confident in our systems capability that we
would only ask to be paid post facto.
A letter was sent to our company asking for a clarification.
The company wanted to know if we meant that they did not
have to pay a dime until the system was running and passed
their approval process. They were suspicious since no other
company was offering that type of guarantee.

We

responded with a definite YES.


We were allowed to enter the bid process. When the other
companies heard about our entry, they complained. The
committee was forced to let all participating members
resubmit their bids.
Id like to tell you that we won that bid, but we didnt. But
here is the curious thing: all the resubmitted bids now
offered the guarantee we had proposed. Although we did
not win, we did manage to influence the rules of
engagement in an attempt to win the business.
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Swapping Out Equipment for Value


One of my favorite strategies in ousting an incumbent
competitor is to go into a company and offer to swap out
their existing product. The first time I used this strategy
was an accident.
At the age of 30 I began selling outside the Unites States,
into Latin America. The company I was with wanted to
expand beyond the U.S., and Latin America seemed to be
ripe for the picking.
Many of our competitors already had a two- to three- year
head start in the market. I quickly found out after several
trips into the region that I had several strikes against me:

We were newcomers to the market

Our brand was unknown

Our prices were 10-20% higher than our


competitors

Our competitors had more feet on the street in


the region

They had a large distribution network already in


place

No one wanted to take a risk on the newcomer

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The one thing we had going for us was that we knew we


had a superior product. We just needed an opportunity to
show clients that this was the case.
Call it desperation, call it what you will. I wasnt selling! I
was having no success in getting any companies to install
and test our product. It was then that I decided after a
lengthy conversation with my superiors that we had to
either become aggressive or abandon the market.
I suggested that we identify five key customers in the
region and offer to swap out their equipment in exchange
for replacing the system with ours. They were already
having problems with their existing system. My job was to
find the most dissatisfied amongst them and make them the
offer.
My first deal was in Panama.

There I met a young

entrepreneur who had invested almost $500,000 in a system


that was running at 80% efficiency at best.

He was

frustrated because of the systems downtime and he was up


against a competitor who was using the situation against
him by informing potential clients of the systems
unreliability. To say the least, he was hemorrhaging money
and he was in need of a way out.

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When I made my proposal, he was hesitant. He was scared


for the all the reasons Ive already stated. I assured him
that our system was better, but he wasnt convinced.
It was then that I pulled out my trump card and offer to
swap out his entire system and replace it with ours, which
we discounted at 50% (i.e., sold it for half-price). After a
month of indecision, he finally gave us the go-ahead but
suggested that he would only make payments on a pay-asyou-go basis. In other words, as the new system came
online, he agreed to pay a percentage.
After all the terms and conditions were hammered out, we
began swapping out the system. His new system was up
and running within three months. After several months
with only minor problems, he reported back that he
couldnt be any happier with the decision. The system was
operating at better than 95% efficiency. Why only 95%?
The problem he now had was trying to manage the speed at
which he was adding new customers to his system; a good
problem to have, if you ask me.
What did we do with the used equipment? We sold it into
the secondary market and got a great deal. After the sale of
the used equipment, even at a 50% discount we were still
able to squeeze out a 10% profit after all expenses were
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covered. It wasnt a big amount, but we now had our first


customer in the region.
This client remained a loyal customer for my duration at
the company. Every year I could count on him putting in
orders for several new systems as his business grew in
Panama.
Free Installation or Training
Contrary to popular belief, the sweetest word in the English
language is not your name on someones lips, but the word
FREE. Most of us know that in life there is no free lunch,
but the illusion of free is just as sweet.
Offering a customer free installation or free training is a
great strategy to get your foot in the door of any company.
We all know that the cost of the installation or training is
included somewhere in the price of the product. Even the
customer knows deep down inside that it isnt really free,
just buried in the cost of the transaction. Nonetheless, the
enticement of getting something for nothing has a
subconscious magnetic pull on our sense of frugality.
Also inherent in the offer of free training or installation is
the sense of security the customer feels, knowing that if
there are any problems with the product, you will be there
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to correct things. Change always carries with it an element


of fear. Free training also helps to assuage any concerns of
trying something new.
I am a firm believer that just because you offer training for
free, that doesnt mean it has to be low quality. In fact, the
best companies Ive competed against offer the best
training to their new customers. The better the training, the
less support you will be required to give down the road.
More importantly, your own resources will not be sapped
by constant calls about problems or questions about the
product you sold. Investing in a great training program
may seem like an expensive proposition, but done right, it
can save you money in the long run. If you do it in haste,
rest assured you will be paying for it with every customer
inquiry or complaint. Learn to out-train your competitors.

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