Proficiency using many different selling techniques is a desired objective. It denotes competence, expertise, know-how, and mastery. An over reliance on certain selling techniques can lead sales professionals into traps that sabotage relationships with clients. In this series of posts, I will share four -proficiency traps and how to avoid them. The first was The Technical Trap; the second, The Execution Trap; the third, “The Networking Trap; and this fourth and final trap involves the problem with incumbency mindsets.
A Good Offense can be the Best Defense in Winning Renewal Business
No matter how entrenched sales professionals become in a client organization, at some point they are likely to face competition for renewals. The trap is in taking an incumbency mindset to defend the business as-is instead of forming a fresh deal strategy that is better positioned to win.
When sellers think like incumbents, they want to defend the relationship and preserve everything the way it currently stands. They justify why they should be retained, based on factors such as their long-standing relationship, past excellent service, or the higher costs of transitioning to a competitor.
The problem with this selling technique is its defensive posture. What the situation requires — and what competitors will do — is take the offensive. As an incumbent, we should ask ourselves: What can we provide that’s new and fresh? What insights about the client and the industry can be leveraged to create a whole new way to partner?
Viewing Client Relationships Through Fresh Eyes is an Effective Selling Technique
One way to shed the incumbent mindset is to view the client relationship through different value lenses:
- Financial: How can we help the client meet their financial goals?
- Technical: To what extent does our solution offer unique capabilities to meet the client’s requirements?
- Strategic: How does our solution help the client achieve their overarching business objectives?
- Partnership: Are we making a solid case for the value we bring to the table beyond the solution itself?
These value lenses help sales professionals to think about how their solutions address different dimensions of value that can be important to the client. The legacy solution may be strongest in only one or two of these lenses because those were most important to the client in the past. The seller has the opportunity to take a holistic look and see whether the solution aligns with what the client is trying to achieve now. What are the client’s current business objectives and future strategy, and what opportunities do these present to propose a fresh approach? Have the stakeholders changed from when the business was originally won, and what are their expectations for outcomes?
The incumbency trap leads sellers to defend their current position, which is likely the result of a decision made years ago by someone who may have left the organization. A better selling technique is to start with a fresh approach, evaluated through different value lenses, that looks ahead to new possibilities rather than trying to force-fit old solutions.
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