Jun 262010


How To Get Your Competition Fired advances the idea of The Wedge, a sales methodology that not only takes the prospect into consideration, but also places an emphasis on the need to deal with existing incumbent or in-progress competitive pressures. Randy Schwantz honed his sales skills in the insurance industry; however, one cannot see why the ideas and scripts in his book would not apply to other industries. Speaking of scripts, Schwantz is adamant early on that he will offer concrete and tangible examples, which he fulfils. The book was provided to me by an ethusiastic CEO, which encouraged me to read it.

The Wedge, therefore, focuses on dislodging the competition or dethroning the current provider. The difference, however, is the book’s emphasis that the process should happen at the customer’s own volition. As the seller drives the process and executes the script, the customer is driven to ask for the seller’s goods or services. It is a risky proposition – claiming that a regimented and scripted approach applies universally – but there is much to conceptually like here.

The book’s core premise is that consultative selling is limited in scope with its emphasis of a two-way dynamic in sales, namely that of the buyer and the seller. The situation, this book emphasizes, is more akin to a triangle. Competition exists and ignoring it, or not giving it equal consideration, is not clever. Good point.

The first step for a seller is to know his competitive advantage. With competition possibilities on price or product being unlikely or limited the emphasis falls upon service, of which the author insists on the proactive kind, which the customer currently does not see from its provider. As such, the demonstration of the differentiator begins now even before a sale has been agreed to. It is time to showcase what the possibilities are, what is not currently being delivered and what the opportunity cost of staying with the current provider is. In the comparison game, the contrast is amplified when the prospect sees the gap between service currently offered and what could be. This is partly why a direct criticism of the competition is ill-advised. The emphasis, again, is on allowing the customer to connect the dots independently. The big question is how to get the prospect to feel negatively towards the current provider? The answer flows from the pro-active service possibility and vision that the seller helps create. The customers need to know that they are under-served. Once this vision is initiated, the pain is leveraged as The Wedge. The possibility of getting the pain to go away forms the reason why the customer will begin to believe it is time for a change. This is facilitated through giving the customer control and predictability. How? First, by conducting extensive pre-sales research. Asking question is next, but one must beware of customers fudging on the truth or not being able to articulate their pain. Much of the emphasis here goes towards knowing the competition and the type of experience it is providing the coveted customer. This is where the suggested script comes into play.

Armed with this information the book recommends pivoting this information into a picture of a pro-active service including allowing the prospect to draw (imagine) a picture of your superior service. The Wedge aims to allow the customer to have a picture in mind, feel the pain of missing the superb service and thus expecting it and soon asking for it. As a psychological concept pain avoidance is a bigger motivator than seeking pleasure and therefore without felt pain there is little chance of a win.

The research before the direct interaction includes: 1- our strengths versus the competitors, 2- our weakness versus the competition’s strength and 3- our strengths versus the competition’s weaknesses. It is with number three that ensures one a win.

The Wedge Sales Calls has the following steps including example scripts, which follow the research and making the customer feel comfortable with you:

1- Picture Perfect (where the customer is to draw a mental picture). “I’m curious. When you receive (name of service) so that you don’t have to worry about (the pain), are you comfortable with the process?”
2- Take Away (where the rosy picture you drew of your service is yanked away – in line with the above-mentioned supremacy of pain avoidance). “Well, perhaps it’s not that important because (give any reason).” You repeatedly tell the customer that you are momentarily setting each issue aside as it is not very important.
3- Vision Box (allow the customer to tell you). “In regard to (area of concern), what would you like to see happen?”
4- Replay (emphasis). “Here’s what I’m hearing you say you want (repeating what the prospect said in Vision Box). Have I got that right?”
5- White Flag (the customer is now saying it). “So what would you like me to do?” In this section delivering a proposal is not enough and should be refused as a stand-alone next step. For the proposal to be accepted the customer must be willing to fire the competition. Hence, see the next step.
6- Rehearsal. “That’s the easy part (referring to the delivery of a proposal). May we talk about the hard part? How will you tell your other rep that it’s over?” That is, would the customer actual deliver the bad news to the competition should the proposal be acceptable. The book suggests being upfront about the difficulty of delivering a bad news to the competitors. The rehearsal is important because the competition will attempt to play defensive and match your offer. “Are you comfortable with everything? So it’s done. Great. I’ll go to work,” Only now will you, in fact, draw up a proposal.

The book does deliver on the tangible aspect of its technique and believes in a regimented approach. However, this strength can easily also be a weakness for obvious reasons. Moreover, while discussing the book’s negatives, the reader will notice a fair amount of postponement and stretching of material and pages before the book delves into the meat of the matter. Nonetheless, the build-up is not irrelevant. Each chapter offers a succinct summary as well and the book includes an index.

This book was handed to me by a company president and my curiosity factor was high. How to Get Your Competition Fired (Without Saying Anything Bad About Them): Using The Wedge to Increase Your Sales is different, interesting and possibly more concrete in its content than the average sales book.


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