Sales 101 – The Value of Competitive Product Knowledge


Does Competitive Product Knowledge Have A Value?


How important is it for a salesperson to know about and talk about a competitor’s products and offerings? I’ve heard strong arguments on both sides for whether or not to talk about the competition in a corporate appointment.  How important is it for a salesperson to know about and talk about a competitor’s products and offerings? From a subscriber


This question was posted on LinkedIn and TheManager felt compelled to include the answer on this site. (You’re Not LinkedIn? Shame On You.)


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you obviously know about – the Facebook for business people. Everyone and anyone is LinkedIn today. A great business resource, LinkedIn offers social networking and career development advice unmatched by any source on the Web. (Of course, if offered social networking, we’d surely smoke ‘em J.)


To The Question At Hand…


Don’t be silly. It is CRITICAL that every sales representative in your organization know as much about their competitors’ products as the competitors themselves know.


Primarily, you’re doing a disservice to your customers if you know only half the story (yours). By gaining a true understanding of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, you can decide the best approach to securing a customer as your own.


Imagining or wishing that a competitor’s product does not offer this or that is foolish. Acknowledging the advantages of a competitor’s product helps you design sales strategies that highlight the unique advantages of your own. Believing your customer has not already heard your competitor’s sales pitch is naïve. They have, and they are going to compare what you say against what the competition claimed.


All of this is not to say that you need to disparage your competitor’s product. Actually, the opposite is more effective in a sales presentation. You should praise the unique advantages of your competitor’s products while highlighting the truly unique advantages of what you offer.


Knowledge Is Power


I’m sure this question was posted on LinkedIn to excite the readers and drive conversation, and it worked.


But by following a solid, consultative approach to selling, your knowledge of a competitor’s product should almost never come up in the conversation. However, if your prospect asks you direct questions about your competitor’s offering, you should be prepared to showcase your knowledge.


Remember, people by from people. If your knowledge of a competitor’s product is sub-par, it’s likely your prospect will question the validity of your claims. In a true consultative selling environment, you move from vendor to partner in the eyes of your prospect. A true partner would know their market.