For your organization to drive growth faster than the market, move forward by infusing your process with competitive intelligence.

Virtually every sales organization has invested in the creation of a sales process.  The most obvious key to designing a sales process is to focus on the customer.  For years, Sales Operations and Enablement leaders have heard this same message delivered in so many ways.


How will you get a competitive advantage if your approach is simply a me-too?  Using a sales process that’s simply buyer-focused is like a bank having on-line bill pay.  It’s the basic price of entry.  You must do more to differentiate in today’s competitive B2B selling environment.  Today’s post will provide three ways to enhance your sales process and deliver greater effectiveness and efficiency.


Download the Sales Process Tool to leverage various assessment questions to score your organization’s Competitive Intelligence IQ, and discover what your score means and where you can improve your organization’s Competitive Intelligence.


Infuse Competitive Intelligence through the Process Stages


Moving through the sales process with the greatest care, reps still lose deals.  Following all the steps, customers continue to select competitor solutions.  What if you could infuse competitive intelligence throughout the process?


Here’s a step-by-step approach you can take now:


  • Identify those competitors your firm is most likely to lose to. Dig deeper to understand not only why you lost but when during the process you lost.  Conduct win-loss interviews where you strive to understand what differentiated the winner in lost deals.  Did the customer begin consideration for the competitor in early stages or later in the process?  Capture what they did, when to gain the customers attention.


  • Map these insights to the stages of your sales process. You may be surprised at the results.  Those that inject themselves early in the process are likely best at stoking latent demand through delivered insights.  Those that show up during an evaluation could be those best able to prove significant ROI.  Late stage entrants to the contest may be popping up because they are low-price leaders.


  • Infuse those findings, specific to the competitor throughout the process. You can add reminders to your reps based upon competitors during the stages they are best at differentiating.  Ensure reps understand how each competitor differentiates and when.  Train your teams with this competitive intelligence by specific stage.  Help them listen more carefully for the signs of competitive entry.  For some additional guidance on capturing and using competitive intelligence, go here.


Accentuate Your Vertical Expertise


When all else is considered equal, prospects will select the solution with the deepest experience in their vertical.  There’s comfort in selecting solutions that are proven within the customers’ specific sector.


This approach requires the following for you to succeed:


  • Capture vertical-specific case studies or references and train on their use. The best way to arm your team here is to directly ask the client if they will serve as a reference.  Reps often shy away from this, but the time to ask is right after you’ve won the deal.  The client has shown their ultimate trust in your company and solutions.  Build a set of case studies or references by verticals.  A note of caution – don’t wear out your welcome – be judicious about how often a reference is relied upon.


  • Build your vertical expertise into the process. Potentially, specific sales playbooks can be built for key verticals.  To gain a better understanding of sales playbooks, go here.


  • Ensure you reps are well versed in that vertical. Their language, propensity to lean towards certain solutions or the difficulties that are specific to their sector.  Reps that can articulate your value proposition throughout the process specific to that vertical will win more often.


Emphasize “Lose Quickly”, to Apply Greater Effort to Deals on the Cusp


It is not typically in a sales reps’ DNA to give up on an opportunity in the pipeline.  That tenacity is often one of the traits that breeds success in an A player sales rep.  Your management team needs to be able to help reps identify when to stay in the game and when to get out.


  • Reps will often hold on to losing deals, selling upon hope. Hope is not a sales strategy.  Many of our clients have difficulty doing this.  The time and talent spent delivering robotic responses to RFP’s / RFQ’s is significant.  Energy is wasted when organizations take the blanket approach of “we have to be in it to win it”.  Objectively inspect deals and make the hard call to lose quickly where your likelihood to win is lowest.  Pull back resources unless and until a buyer shows interest. 


  • Reinvest those saved resources into opportunities that can be pushed over the line. Buyer interest in your solution must be your guide.  Courage during the process to ask the tough questions of the client is needed.  Fear of failure causes reps to hold back.  Encourage your team to pull back where buyers have not provided continued, genuine interest.  Drive additional resources – technical or managerial – to those where winning remains a real possibility. 


For your organization to drive growth faster than the market, move forward by infusing your process with competitive intelligence.  Increase the team’s ability to leverage vertical expertise throughout the process.  Help them lose quickly and align more resources to deals that can be pushed over the line.


Download the Sales Process Tool to leverage various assessment questions to score your organization’s Competitive Intelligence IQ, and discover what your score means and where you can improve your organization’s Competitive Intelligence.



Additional Resources


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Patrick Seidell

Delivering revenue growth by aligning Corporate, Sales, Marketing and Product strategies supported by executable activities throughout the organization.

Prior to joining SBI, Pat has held key positions within Sales Operations, Sales and Marketing management.  Most recently, Pat held the role of VP Sales Operations and Enablement with an industry leading IT Services company with nearly $1B in annual revenues.  He has led several transformation projects spanning Sales, Operations and Product functions for several Fortune 1000 companies.  Pat has directed several large projects to evaluate marketing content and product portfolio to align offerings and messaging to achieve revenue growth goals.


Pat has deep experience across several verticals, including Logistics, IT Services, Media, Market Research and Consulting.

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