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Who REALLY is your biggest competitor?

Runner_on_Starting_Block_-_SillyLooking back at my career in sales, I realize that I overwhelmingly lost to the same competitor. No, it wasn’t a big national. And it wasn’t the local staffing firm. It wasn’t even a boutique specialty firm. The competitor that I have lost to over and over again is the same one that you and every other staffing firm compete against every day: the Status Quo. Our biggest competitor in most cases is the prospect not making a change, even when everyone knows they should.

Why do prospects not change suppliers, even when they are unhappy with their current service? There are several key reasons:

  • They would rather stay with “the devil they know”. At least they know the issues they have with the current provider and likely have made adjustments. Switching providers brings the risk of all new problems, and that the situation will actually get worse.
  • You haven’t convinced them that their business (and life) will be better switching to you. And just a little improvement probably isn’t worth the pain of changing, so you need to show them that you will significantly improve their situation.
  • They aren’t ready to admit the relationship is over. At one time they loved (or at least really liked) their current provider, and maybe that wasn’t too long ago. Just as in any relationship, there can be loyalty, guilt, and other emotions that make a decision less cut and dry.
  • They don’t want to take on what they might see as a major disruption to their business. Their plate is full enough as it is. If they see changing vendors as a major undertaking, they will put it off as long as they can.
  • They aren’t in enough pain – or at least won’t admit they are. How many times have you said to yourself “don’t they see how much of a problem they have?” Well, sometimes the prospect doesn’t, and other times they are in denial that they have a major issue.

So how do we win more deals against the Status Quo? First, we need to understand that there are many factors other than reason that go into making a decision. If we sell only based on what’s reasonable, we are going to lose a lot of deals. Then we need to ask questions about their situation and be willing to address these factors.

We also need to ask questions that will bring the issues they are facing to the forefront. Focus on the consequences of these issues, not just the issues themselves. Don’t just ask about turnover, ask how turnover impacts their business, their profitability, their relationships with their clients, and even their own personal life.

Show them that your service will be a significant improvement that will help them avoid the consequences you just exposed. You can do this by telling stories of other clients, providing case studies, and relevant testimonials and references.

Lastly, make it as easy as possible for them to make the change. Show them a detailed transition plan. Again provide case studies, testimonials, and references that support this.

Your biggest competition will still always be the Status Quo. But understanding the reasons behind change reluctance, and modifying your sales process to address them will help you win more of these deals in the future.


Looking for a way to show weekly progess toward meeting your sales goals? Then download our free sales tool, the Weekly Activity Planner. This worksheet allows you to:

  • Manage the sales pipeline as a funnel (rather than a rollercoaster),
  • Keep sales on track toward quota and annual sales goals, and
  • Develop an agenda for weekly sales meetings.


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