The 3 Questions to Break Free From Your Competition

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Mar 21, 2013 10:30:00 AM

sales competitionI’ve written about the curse of knowledge before.  An important sales implication of the curse is that selling organizations become increasingly committed to the belief that it’s the expertise and knowledge about the solution that separate competitors in buyers’ eyes.

There are two important points that contradict that belief:

Your customers are nowhere near as educated as we’d like to believe they are about their problems, so it’s virtually impossible that they’ll be able to:

  • Truly understand your expertise and solutions, and
  • Effectively compare the difference – and the value of that difference – between you and your competitors.
  • When you’re focused on your expertise or solution you must overcome two huge barriers:
    1. You’re in a what’s it cost conversation, and
    2. Your competitors have expertise and solutions as well, and they’re probably pretty good too.

As a small, mid-market business, if your goal is to separate yourself from your competition, drive accelerated growth and expand your margins, you cannot do so by focusing on or attempting to differentiate your solutions.

You must - MUST - contribute to defining the problem.

Ask yourself these 3 questions to determine if your sales efforts are setting you apart and making growth effortless:


  1. How much time do I, or my salespeople, spend talking about our solution vs. digging deeper into the real problem facing my customer?
  2. In my sales calls with my prospects and customers, how much do they learn about their problem vs. learn about my solution?  As a general rule, you want them to learn 3x more about what’s preventing them from achieving their desired objectives than about how your solution will help.
  3. How much documentation do we use to highlight and quantify the cause and cost of the problem?  (Feel free to check out our Core Sales Toolkit if you’re looking for some tools.)

Having witnessed thousands of sales calls, and advised thousands of more, I can state – unequivocally – that the single biggest, most common and most damaging mistake is that selling organizations spend too little time defining the problem, and jump to the solution way too fast.

Topics: B2B Sales Strategy