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How to deal with competitors in B2B sales

October 6, 2021

These are THE WORST things you can ever say and do when you’re dealing with competitors 👇

  • Be aggressive.
  • Say “My horse is bigger than your horse and that’s why we’re going to level up and win!”
  • Let your prospect know why you’re right and your competitor is wrong.

But if you can’t directly criticise them…

How should you approach talking about competitors with your prospects?

We weren’t too sure ourselves.

So, we picked the brains of two of our best AEs, Brahm Jagpal and Charlie Beale, to find out!

Their tips are so good, you won’t want to skim this blog.

But you can click 👇to get the bits you need to up your demo game.

Is there an incumbent provider? | Know your competition | Supplementing or replacing? | Ask their opinion | Up your prospecting game

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4 top SaaS salespeople discuss how to deal with competitors when closing deals. Press ▶️ to watch our video.


Is there an incumbent provider? 🕵️‍♀️

This is the first thing you need to determine.

Is there a company that has a similar product or service to yours, that’s preferred by:

  1. Your total addressable market.
  2. By the prospect right in front of you.

If so, Brahm suggests asking the following questions:

  • What’s missing from their current solution?
  • What are they not getting?
  • What does the prospect like and dislike about the alternative solution?

You should be able to quantify these pain points on a scale of 1-10.

Brahm expands on this:

“This helps both you and your prospect. You get to prioritise what pain points are most important and the prospect gets to process this and further identify how deep their pain runs.”

“This can also later be used to help with business cases or second demonstrations to additional stakeholders.”

Charlie added another question into the mix:

I’m curious, what drew you to X competitor?

He told us:

“I find this response to a competitor uncovers a lot of valuable information. Whether it’s an integration, a specific use case, or ultimately a key requirement for the prospect. It can lead to a good conversation around what pains they’re trying to solve.”

If the prospect is looking at the market for the first time and this is a completely new avenue for them, take an educational approach.

If you’re unsure if they’re familiar with certain features, for example, intent data - simply ask!

Once you know the pains your prospect is facing, you can empathise by referencing your competition.

And this all comes down to 👇

Knowing your competition 🤼‍♀️

This may seem obvious, but you need to know the ins and outs of your competitor’s tools.

Charlie elaborates on how to do this:

Spend time trialling and even using your competitors’ products. This builds credibility with prospects and allows you, as the salesperson, to ask leading questions about where you might be stronger than competitors.”

Brahm agreed with Charlie:

It’s always useful to understand this, even if they are evaluating several providers. You need to gauge where the prospect is in their buying journey. Are they in early-stage research? Have they had an initial demonstration? Are they trialling products, or are they late-stage?”

This is incredibly important as it will help to determine and shape your sales demo.

And, as an added bonus, you can find out what components of your competitors’ product the prospect liked and disliked.

In this evaluation and the discussion that will follow, it’s key that you’re honest and admit to any pitfalls your product may have.

B2B prospects like honesty, so you’ve got to admit if you fall short in some areas or if another vendor is a better fit for the prospect’s needs.

Another key point of evaluation is whether your solution is 👇

Supplementing or replacing? 🤷

Are you going to supplement or replace the prospect’s current solution?

Some tools may work best alongside others.

A strong discovery and understanding of the prospect’s pains, and exactly what they’re trying to solve, will help you identify:

  • If your tool is a replacement for something they have.
  • Or if it is in fact supplementary.

Once you’ve done this, you can action Brahm’s steps:

If your solution is supplementary, then all you need to show is how you will fill the missing gap identified in the discovery.  

However, this is very different when it’s a head-to-head or a replacement, where further depth is needed.

From the overview, and throughout the demonstration, highlight key differentiating points, especially when:

  • Linking back to the prospect’s pain.
  • And their reasons for joining you on a call.

You must always back up your claims with case studies that include quantified metrics. This is because your prospects are interested in knowing the impact on how other clients have solved similar pain points.

Sharing this information will not only position you in a favourable light, but if they have any questions or concerns, then the prospect is more likely to open up.

You can then address these concerns head-on.

And, if you’re not sure about where your prospect’s head is at with your competitors, you can simply 👇

Ask their opinion 🗣️👂

Don’t do this straight off the bat though!

The end of your demo is where you want to ask for your prospect’s opinion.

To do this, simply ask the following question:

We highlighted (insert pain points here). Do you think we’ve addressed all these issues? It would be great to understand in your opinion how our solution compares to (competitor name).

This will help to solidify and gain both buy-in and insight into what they liked and preferred.

If they’ve assessed a number of your competitors before coming to you, it’s always a good idea to ask them for feedback. Like this:

From what you’ve seen so far, who’s your preferred vendor currently? And do you have any reservations?

This gives you an opportunity to address any objections head-on.

Finally, always offer supporting material, e.g.: comparison documents, case studies, G2 or Trustpilot reviews, or even news articles.

Remember that external sources further validate the points you’ve raised.

You can download Cognism's own competitor battlecard template here 👇

Get the template

Up your prospecting game 🚀

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we’ve got even more tips for you!

Find out how you can:

  • Improve your discovery calls.
  • Crush your demos.
  • And reactivate your closed-lost deals.

Get your eyes on our Outbound Prospecting Playbook.

Download it now! 👇