Making B2B sales is often a complex and time-consuming process, in large part because there are so many factors involved in closing a deal. It’s not good enough just to sell a decision maker on the idea of buying your solution — you also need to make sure your solution fits into the larger picture of what the buyer’s organization really needs, and you need to be prepared to answer questions and address concerns from all of the other people and departments within the buyer’s organization that are affected by the purchase decision. This means that if you're selling to companies that will need to switch vendors or replace an incumbent vendor in order to buy from you, you’re going to need to prepare for an added degree of difficulty.
Here are a few key tips and insights on how to know what to expect when competing against an incumbent vendor, and how to put a good strategy in place to overcome the buyer's possible objections.
When companies switch vendors, there are certain switching costs involved — as mentioned in item #2 below, sometimes a new solution requires other operational changes, and it’s not always easy or inexpensive to navigate the new reality of switching vendors. For this reason, many companies are hesitant to switch vendors — even if they’re unsatisfied with some aspect of their current vendor’s service or solution — because they’re afraid of incurring these painful operational changes or paying these switching costs. This is why it’s important to have a wide-ranging, detailed discussion during the sales process about your solution’s projected Return On Investment. Demonstrate all of the reasons why your solution is much better than the current vendor’s, including all the additional problems that your solution can solve that their current solution cannot.
Take a big picture view of ROI that captures the total positive impact of your solution on the buyer’s organization. For example, will your solution save money, automate additional work processes, boost efficiency, save time, or integrate seamlessly with other software that they already are using? Be ready to demonstrate a big enough ROI that accounts for all of these factors and really hits home how much better your solution is – for all aspects of the buyer’s bottom line.
Does your solution operate differently or require different expertise and work processes than the incumbent vendor’s solution? Chances are, it does — or else they wouldn’t need to switch, right? This means that employee training is going to be a top concern for your buyer — and you will need to have a plan in place upfront for how to train the buyer's staff on how to use and implement the new solution. Ideally, you should be able to demonstrate how your solution works better, why it’s more efficient, and which aspects of daily life at work are going to be cheaper or easier or more painless than the old system or solution that you’re replacing. Show employees and front line managers how your solution will make their jobs easier, and you’ll be able to achieve buy-in from everyone in the organization — not just the decision makers.
How will switching vendors (from the incumbent to your company) affect your buyer's overall business operations? Will they have to re-route work or change processes internally? Will they need to make additional investments in compatible software, hire additional staff, or perhaps eliminate some departments? Keep in mind that they’re not just buying “your solution,” they’re buying the new reality of what your solution will enable and create within their organization — and sometimes these changes are painful for organizations to accept. So be ready to answer questions and offer ideas – show that you’re thinking ahead and that you’re aware of the overall impact that this deal is going to have on the buyer’s organization.
Buyers want to feel secure that you and your team will be in it for the long haul — not just to make the sale, but to stick around and for the implementation and ongoing support of the new solution. This is a top concern for many B2B buyers — in fact, many of them decide to switch vendors because their solution is no longer supported. Make sure you can demonstrate why you’re the best choice for ongoing support, as well as the initial sale.
Getting B2B buyers to switch vendors is rarely a simple or straightforward process, but that’s why the rewards are so big! If you can navigate the sales process while talking with multiple stakeholders, assuaging doubts and fears among various departments, demonstrating a big ROI and developing a solid plan for training and implementation, you’ll be well on your way to making more sales — no matter which incumbent vendors you’re up against.
Gregg Schwartz is the Director of Sales for Strategic Sales & Marketing, one of the industry-founding lead generation companies servicing the B2B marketplace. Gregg has developed and implemented hundreds of lead generation programs resulting in millions of dollars in revenue for his clients.